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Title: Contemporary Socialism
Author: Rae, John, 1845-1915
Language: English
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New York


In the present edition the original work has not only been carefully
revised, but very considerably enlarged. The chapters on "The Progress
and Present Position of Socialism" and "Russian Nihilism" contain a few
sentences retained from the first edition, but otherwise they are
entirely new--the former necessarily so on account of the nature of its
subject, and the latter on account of the importance of the fresh
materials that have been recently given to the world. A new chapter has
been added on "Anarchism," and another, of considerable extent, on
"State Socialism." No apology is required for the length of the latter,
for though State socialism is only a growth of yesterday, it has already
spread everywhere, and if it is not superseding socialism proper, it is
certainly eclipsing it in practical importance, and to some extent even
modifying it in character. Revolutionary socialism, growing more
opportunist of late years, seems losing much of its old phrenzy, and
getting domesticated into a shifty State socialism, fighting a
parliamentary battle for minor, though still probably mischievous,
changes within the lines of existing society, instead of the old war _à
l'outrance_ against existing society in whatever shape or form. Anyhow
the socialistic controversy in the immediate future will evidently be
fought along the lines of State socialism. It is there the hostile
parties meet, and it is well therefore to get, if we can, some more
exact knowledge of the ground. Some of the other chapters in the work
have been altered here and there for the purpose of bringing their
matter, where necessary, down to date, or embodying fresh illustrative
evidence, or occasionally of making the exposition itself more lucid and
effective; but it is unnecessary to specify these alterations in detail.

_April, 1891._




Revival of Socialism, 1--Extinction of Old Types, 2--Main Surviving
Type, Social Democracy, 3--Its Two Varieties, Socialist and Anarchist,
4--Its Relations to Political Democracy, 4--Definition of Socialism,
5--Cairnes on Mill's Profession of Socialism, 6--Ruling Characteristic
common to Old and New Socialism, 9--State Socialism, 11--Conservative
Socialism, 13--The Minimum of Socialism, 14--First Rise of
Social Democracy, 15--Rousseau, 16--Baboeuf, 17--Connection of
Socialism with Democracy, 18--The Danger to Free Institutions,
24--Necessity and Probability of Wider Diffusion of Property, 25.



National Conditions Favourable to Socialism, 30--Germany, 30--Progress
of Socialist Vote, 33--Action of Socialist Party in Reichstag, 34--Party
Programme, 38--Halle Congress of 1891, 40--France, 45--Anarchists,
47--Socialist Revolutionary Party, 48--Possibilists, 50--Blanquists,
53--The Socialist Group in the Chamber, 53--Austria, 54--Italy,
57--Spain, 60--Portugal, 65--Norway and Sweden, 66--Denmark,
67--Belgium, 70--Holland, 72--Switzerland, 73--United States, 77--Boston
Anarchists, 77--Mr. Henry George, 78--Mr. Bellamy's Nationalism,
79--Anarchists, 80--Socialistic Labour Party, 81--Knights of Labor,
82--England, 83--Social Democrats, 84--Anarchists, 86--Christian
Socialists, 87--Fabians, 88--Land Nationalization, 89--Scotland,
90--Australia, 90.



German Socialists before Lassalle, 93--Favourable Conditions for
Socialist Agitation in Germany, 94--Character of Lassalle, 96--The
Hatzfeldt Case, 99--Theft of the _Cassette_, 100--Trial for Sedition,
101--Literary Activity, 102--Letter to Leipzig Working Men,
103--Foundation of General Working Men's Association, 105--Lassalle's
Agitation, 105--His Death, 106--Funeral, 108--Political Views, 109--Idea
and Position of the Working Class, 109--Functions of the State,
111--Economic Doctrines, 113--Anarchic Socialism of the present
Industrial _Régime_, 117--Ricardo's "Iron Law" of Wages, 119--A
National, not an International Socialist, 124--Internationally not
Peculiar to Socialist Parties, 126--Reason of Socialist Condemnation of
Patriotism, 127.



Reception of his Work on Capital, 128--The Young Hegelians,
130--Feuerbach's Humanism, 131--"Young Germany," 136--Weitling and
Albrecht, 137--Early Socialistic Leanings of Marx, 139--Marx in Paris,
141--in Brussels, 142--The Communist League, 142--Communist Manifesto of
1847, 144--_New Rhenish Gazette_, 146--Marx in London, 147--The
International, its Rise and Fall, 149--Tendency to Division in
Revolutionary Parties, 152--"Das Capital," 155--Historical Rise of
Capitalism, 156--Origin of Surplus Value, 157--Theory of Value,
160--Price, 163--Criticism of his Theory of Value, 165--Wages,
166--Normal Day of Labour, 168--Machinery, 170--Piecework, 172--Relative
Over-population, 174.



Rodbertus, 179--Professor Winkelblech (Marlo), 180--His Awakening to
Social Misery, 180--Application to Economic Study for Solution,
181--View of Social Problem, 182--Heathen Idea of Right (Monopolism) to
be replaced by Christian Idea of Right (Panpolism), 183--Liberalism and
Communism both Utopias, 184--Federalism alone realizes Christian Idea of
Right, 188--Natural Right of all to Property, 189--Right to Labour and
to Fruits of Labour, 191--Necessity of Controlling Increase of
Population, 192--Of Suppressing Unproductive Acquisition,
193--Collectivization of Land and Productive Capital, 193.



The Name, 195--Held's Vindication of it, 196--Objections to it,
197--Founders of the Historical School, 200--Their Departure from
Manchester Party, 202--Eisenach Congress, 202--The Historical Method,
204--The Historical School a Realist School, 205--An Ethical School,
209--Their Theory of the State, 211--The Social Question, 212--Von
Scheel, 215--Brentano, 215.



Socialism and Christianity, 218--Views of St. Simon and Cabet,
218--Irreligious Character of Contemporary Socialism, 219--The Christian
Socialists of England in 1850, 220--Those of Germany now, 223--The
Catholic Group, 223--Ketteler, 224--Moufang, 230--Protestant Group,
233--Stöcker, Todt, 234--Christian Social Working Men's Party, 239--The
Social Monarchical Union, 241--The Evangelical Social Congress of 1890,
241--Is there a Specific Christian Social Politics? 242--Christian
Socialism in Austria, 242--In France, 243--International Catholic Social
Congress of 1890 at Liège, 243--The Pope's Encyclical, 245.



Recent Activity of Anarchists, 247--Individualist Anarchists and
Communist Anarchists, 248--Latter are Ultra-Socialist,
249--Ultra-Democratic, 250--Proudhon's Anarchic Government, 250--No
Representative Institutions, 251--Prince Krapotkin's Plan for Housing
the Poor, 252--The Russian _Mir_ the Anarchist Model of Government,
252--Anarchism Atheistic, 254--Ultra-revolutionary, 255--Propaganda of
Deed, 256--Disunity and Weakness of Anarchism, 257.



Haxthausen's Opinion of Russia's Safety from Socialism, 259--Successive
Phases of Nihilism, 260--Origin of Nihilism, 261--Influence of the
Rural Commune on Revolutionary Thought, 262--Decabrist Conspiracy
of 1825, 263--Extreme Opinions at Russian Universities in Reign
of Nicholas, 264--Ascension of Alexander II., 264--Alexander Herzen,
265--Turgenieff and the word Nihilist, 266--Koscheleff and Fircks's
Accounts of Nihilism, 267--Causes of it, 268--Nihilist Sunday Schools,
Tchernycheffsky, 269--Effect of Emancipation of Serfs, 270--Ruined
Landlords, 270--Jews, 271--Heretics, 272--Bakunin, 273--Herzen's
Recantation of Revolutionism, 273--Bakunin in London, 274--His
"Amorphism," 274--His Picture of the Good Revolutionist, 275--Netchaïeff
founds Branches of the International in Russia, 276--The
first Attempt on the Czar, 276--Reversion to Arbitrary and Despotic
Government, 276--Bakunin and Lavroff at Zurich, 278--"Going into
the People," 279--Secret Societies, 280--Nihilist Arrests and Trials,
281--Terrorism, 282--Assassination of Czar, 283--Present Socialist
Parties, 283--The Black Division Party, 283--Alarming Growth of a
Proletariat in Russia, 284--Impoverishment of Peasantry, 286--Break
up of Communistic System, 288--Dissolution of House Communities,
289--The Black Division, 292--The Labour Emancipation League, 295.



A Social Question recognised by Contemporary Economists, 297--Mr.
Cairnes on the Situation, 297--Socialist Indictment of Existing
_Régime_, 299--1st, the "Iron Law of Wages," 300--Alleged Deterioration
of Wage-Labourers' Position Unfounded, 301--Their Standard of Living
Better, 302--Their Individual Share in the National Wealth more,
304--The "Iron Law" Misunderstood by Socialists, 305--The "Iron Law"
Itself Unsound, 307--The Rate of Wages really Depends on the _per
capita_ Production, 307--Prospects of Increasing _per capita_
Production, 312--Piecework, 314--Shorter Day of Labour, 318--2nd,
Alleged Multiplication of Vicissitudes, 323--Effects of Machinery,
323--Temporary Redundancies, 324--Serious Redundancies Lessening,
324--Value of Good System of Commercial Statistics, 325--3rd, Alleged
Expropriation of the Value of the Labourer's Work, 327--How Value is
Constituted, 327--Justice of Interest, 329--Social Importance of Work of
Capitalist Employer, 330--Public Value of Private Property, 333--Value
of Freedom, 334--_Laissez-faire_, 336--Necessity for Opportunities of
Investment, 338--Co-operative Production, 338--Advantage of Interlacing
of Classes, 340--Reason of exceptionally good House Accommodation among
Working Classes of Sheffield, 341.



_1. State Socialism and English Economics._

M. Léon Say on State Socialism, 345--State Property and State Industries
in Germany, 345--Mr. Goschen and others on Change in English
Opinion regarding State Intervention, 346--Their Views Exaggerated
and undiscriminating, 347--Little done in England in Nationalizing
Industries, 348--Much done in enlarging Popular Rights, 349--English
Thinkers never Believers in _Laissez-faire_, 351--Except Mr. H. Spencer,
352--Adam Smith's "Simple and Obvious System of Natural
Liberty," 353--His Theory of Social Politics, 356--Ricardo's Views,
359--McCulloch's, 360--On the Manufacturing System, 362--On
Crises, 363--On Irish Pauper Labour, 364--On Factory Legislation,
366--On Housing the Poor, 366--On the Poor Law, 368--The So-called
Manchester School, 372--The English Theory of Social Politics, 373.

_2. The Nature and Principle of State Socialism._

Different Definitions of Socialism, 374--Origin and Meaning of State
Socialism, 379--The Social Monarchists, 380--Rodbertus, 380--His
Theory of Social Politics, 381--M. de Laveleye and Establishment of
Equality of Conditions, 384--Alleged Disinheritance of the People
from the Primitive Economic Rights, 385--Mr. Chamberlain's Doctrine
of "Ransom," 386--Professor A. Wagner's State Socialism, 387.

_3. State Socialism and Social Reform._

Cobden's Praise of the Prussian Government for its Social Work,
393--Property, a Requisite of Progress, not of Freedom, 394--Limits
of Legitimate Intervention, 395--Short Definition of State Socialism,
399--Error of Plea for State Socialism as Extinguisher of Chance,
399--As Saving the Waste from Competition, 400--Wastefulness of
Socialism, 401--As shown in Samoa, 401--In England under Old Poor
Law, 402--In Brook Farm, 402--Idleness the Destroyer of the American
Owenite and Fourierist Communities, 403--Idleness, the Great
Difficulty in the Shaker and Rappist Communities, 405--"Old Slug,"
406--Contentment with Squalid Conditions, 407--Special Liability to
Mismanagement, 408.

_4. State Socialism and State Management._

Natural Qualities and Defects of State as Industrial Manager, 409--Post
Office, 410--Dockyards, 410--Forestry, 412--Mint and other
Forms of Attesting, 412--Monopolies, 413--Municipal Management
of Gas and Water Supply, 413--Land Nationalization, 414--State
Railways, 415--State Insurance in New Zealand, 417--Results of
Joint-Stock Management and Private Management in Massachusetts, 417.

_5. State Socialism and Popular Right._

Why Impracticable Legislation is Socialistic, 418--Rule of Intervention
for Realizing Rights, 419--Right to Existence, 421--Right to
Superannuation, 421--Right to Labour, 423--Problem of the Unemployed,
425--Free Education, Libraries, Parks, 427--Where Stop?
427--Legal Fixing of Prices, as in Fares and Rates, 428--Of Fair Rent,
429--Of Fair Wages, 430--Compulsory Arbitration, 430--Legal
Minimum Wages, 431--Sweating System and Starvation Wages,
432--International Compulsory Eight Hours Day, 434.



Mr. George Predicts that his Book would find Apostles, 441--Fulfilment
of the Prediction, 441--Sisyphism, 442--Loses His Religious Belief
through Perception of Poverty, 443--Recovers it again, 445--1st, His
Problem, 445--Its unverified Assumption, 445--Evidence of Facts
against it, 448--Average Scale of Living has Risen, 449--Proportion
of Paupers, unable to obtain it, has Declined, 449--Special Decline of
Able-bodied Pauperism, 450--Increase of Length of Life, 452--Mr.
George Changes his Problem from one of Quantity to one of Proportion,
453--Rent really no larger Proportion of National Wealth or
even of Agricultural Produce than before, 454--Wages no Smaller
Proportion, 456--Indications of Increasing Distribution of Wealth,
457--2nd, Mr. George's Explanation, 461--Alleged Tendency of
Wages to a Minimum that gives but a Bare Living, 462--The Wages
Fund and Population Theories, 464--Mr. George's New Population
Theory, 465--His New Wages Fund Theory, 468--His Explanation
of the Distribution of Wealth without taking Profits into Account,
474--Views on Rent, 476--on Interest, 483--Wages, 484--Margin of
Cultivation, 484--Absurdities of his Explanation, 485--3rd, Mr.
George's Remedy, 487--Land Nationalization Movement in England,
488--Futility of Mr. George's Remedy, 489--Confiscation, 490--Difference
of Mr. George's Proposal from Mr. Mill's, 491--Agricultural
Land as truly the Fruit of Labour as other Commodities, 492--Real
Distinction between Land and other Property, 494--Social Claim on
all Property, 495--Is Private Property the best Guarantee for the
most Productive use of Land? 496--Land Nationalization no Assistance
to the Reforms that are Needed, 498.



It was a common topic of congratulation at the Exhibition of 1862 that
the political atmosphere of Europe was then entirely free from the
revolutionary alarms which overclouded the first Exhibition in 1851; but
in that very year the old clouds began to gather once more at different
quarters of the horizon. It was in 1862 that Lassalle delivered to a
club of working men in Berlin his address on "The Present Epoch of the
World, and the Idea of the Working Class," which was published shortly
afterwards under the title of "The Working Man's Programme," and which
has been called by his friends "The Wittenberg Theses" of the new
socialist movement; and it was at the Exhibition itself that those
relations were established between the delegates of English and French
trade societies which issued eventually in the organization of the
International. The double train thus laid has put in motion a propaganda
of social revolution more vigorous, widespread, and dangerous than any
which has preceded it.

But though the reappearance of socialism was not immediately looked for
at the time, it could cause no serious surprise to any one who
considered how nearly the socialist theory is allied with some of the
ruling ideas of modern times, and how many points of attraction it
presents at once to the impatient philanthropy of enthusiasts, to the
passions of the multitude, and to the narrow but insistent logic of the
numerous class of minds that make little account of the complexity of
life. Socialism will probably never keep long away during the present
transitional period of society, and there is therefore less interest in
the mere fact of its reappearance than in marking the particular form in
which, after a prolonged retirement, it has actually returned; for this
may perhaps be reasonably taken to be its most vital and enduring type,
and consequently that with which we shall mainly have to reckon in the

Now the present movement is, before all, political and revolutionary.
The philanthropic and experimental forms of socialism, which played a
conspicuous _rôle_ before 1848, perished then in the wreck of the
Revolution, and have never risen to life again. The old schools have
dispersed. Their doctrines, their works, their very hopes have gone. The
theories of man's entire dependence on circumstances, of the
rehabilitation of the flesh, of the passional attraction, once in
everybody's mouth, have sunk into oblivion. The communities of Owenites,
St. Simonians, Fourierists, Icarians, which multiplied for a time on
both sides of the Atlantic, are extinct. The socialists of the present
day have discarded all belief in the possibility of effecting any social
regeneration except by means of political authority, and the first
object of their endeavours is therefore the conquest of the powers of
the State. There are some exceptions, but these are very unimportant.
The communistic societies of the United States, for instance, are mostly
organizations of eccentric religious sects which have no part or
influence in the life of the century. The Colinsian Collectivists,
followers of the Belgian socialist Colins, are a mere handful; and the
Familistère of Guise in France--a remarkable institution, founded since
1848 by an old disciple of Fourier, though not on Fourier's plan--stands
quite alone, and has no imitators. Non-political socialism may
accordingly be said to have practically disappeared.

Not only so, but out of the several sorts and varieties of political
socialism, only one has revived in any strength, and that is the
extremest and most revolutionary. It is the democratic communism of the
Young Hegelians, and it scouts the very suggestion of State-help, and
will content itself with nothing short of State-transformation. Schemes
such as were popular and noisy thirty years ago--schemes, involving
indeed organic changes, but organic changes of only a partial
character--have gone to their rest. Louis Blanc, for example, was then a
name of some power; but, remarkably enough, though Louis Blanc was but
the other year buried with great honour, his Organization of Labour
seems to be as completely forgotten as the Circulus of Leroux. M. G. de
Molinari writes an interesting account of the debates that took place in
the working men's clubs of Paris in the year 1868-9--the first year they
were granted liberty of meeting after the establishment of the Second
Empire--and he states that while Fourier and Cabet were still quoted by
old disciples, though without any idea of their systems being of
practical moment, Louis Blanc's name was not even mentioned. Proudhon's
gospel of a State bank of mutual credit for furnishing labourers with
capital, by issuing inconvertible notes without money and without price,
has still a sprinkling of faithful believers, who call themselves
Mutualists; but they are extremely few, and, as a rule, the socialists
of France at the present day, like those of Germany, put their faith in
iron rather than paper. What they want is a democracy of labour, to use
one of their own phrases--that is, a State in which power and property
shall be based on labour; where citizenship shall depend on a labour
qualification, instead of a qualification of birth or of property; where
there shall be no citizen who enjoys without labouring, and no citizen
who labours without enjoying; where every one who is able to work shall
have employment, and every one who has wrought shall retain the whole
produce of his labour; and where accordingly, as the indispensable
prerequisite of the whole scheme, the land of the country and all other
instruments of production shall be made the joint property of the
community, and the conduct of all industrial operations be placed under
the direct administration of the State. Furthermore, all this is
contended for as a matter of simple right and justice to the labouring
classes, on the ground that the wealth of the nation belongs to the
hands that made it; it is contended for as an obligation of the State,
because the State is held to be merely the organized will of the people,
and the people is the labouring class; and it is contended for as an
object of immediate accomplishment--if possible, by ordinary
constitutional means; but, if not, by revolution.

This is the form in which socialism has reappeared, and it may be
described in three words as Revolutionary Socialist Democracy. The
movement is divided into two main branches--socialism proper, or
collectivism, as it is sometimes called, and anarchism. There are
anarchists who are not socialists, but hold strongly by an individualist
constitution of property. They are very few, however, and the great mass
of the party known by that name in our day, including the Russian
Nihilists, are as ardent believers in the economic socialism of Karl
Marx as the Social Democrats of Germany themselves. They diverge from
the latter on a question of future government; but the differences
between the two are only such as the same movement might be expected to
exhibit in passing through different media, personal or national. Modern
democrats have been long divided into Centralists and Federalists--the
one party seeking to give to the democratic republic they contemplate a
strongly centralized form of government, and the other preferring to
leave the local communes comparatively independent and sovereign, and
free, if they choose, to unite themselves in convenient federations. The
federal republic has always been the favourite ideal of the Democrats of
Spain and of the Communards of Paris, and there is generally a tendency
among Federalists, in their impatience of all central authority, to drop
the element of federation out of their ideal altogether, and to advocate
the form of opinion known as "anarchy"--that is, the abolition of all
superior government. It was very natural that this ancient feud among
the democrats should appear in the ranks of socialist democracy, and it
was equally natural that the Russian Radicals, hating the autocracy of
their country and idealizing its rural communes, should become the chief
adherents of the federalist and even the anarchic tradition.

This is the only point of principle that separates anarchism from
socialism. In other respects anarchism may be said to be but an extremer
phase of socialism. It indulges in more violent methods, and in a more
omnivorous spirit of destruction. Its fury takes a wider sweep; it
attacks all current beliefs and all existing institutions; it puts its
hopes in universal chaos. I shall endeavour in a future chapter to
explain, from peculiarities of the national character and culture, why
this gospel of chaos should find so much acceptance in Russia; but it is
no exclusively Russian product. It was preached with singular coolness,
as will be subsequently shown, by some of the young Hegelians of Germany
before 1848, and it obtains among the more volatile members of most
socialist organizations still. Attacks on religion, patriotism, the
family, are very usual accessories of their practical agitations
everywhere. As institutions and beliefs are seen to lend strength to
each other, teeth set on edge against one are easily brought to gnash at
all. A sharp check from the public authority generally brings out to the
front this extremer element in German socialism. After the repressive
legislation of 1878 the German socialists struck the restriction of
proceeding "by legal methods" out of their programme, and the wilder
spirits among them would be content with nothing short of a policy of
general destruction, and, being expelled from the party, started an
organization of their own on thoroughly anarchist lines.

Under these influences, the word socialism has come to contract a new
meaning, and is now generally defined in a way that would exclude the
very theories it was originally invented to denote. Its political
element--its demand on the public power in behalf of the labouring
class--is taken to be the pith and essence of the system. Mr. Cairnes,
for example, says that the circumstance which distinguishes socialism
from all other modes of social speculation is its invocation of the
powers of the State, and he finds fault with Mr. Mill for describing
himself in his "Autobiography" as a socialist, merely because his ideal
of ultimate improvement had more in common with the ideal of socialistic
reformers than with the views of those who in contradistinction would be
called orthodox. The passage from the "Autobiography" runs as
follows:--"While we repudiated with the greatest energy that tyranny of
society over the individual which most socialistic systems are supposed
to involve, we yet looked forward to a time when society will no longer
be divided into the idle and the industrious; when the rule that they
who do not work shall not eat will be applied, not to paupers only, but
impartially to all; when the division of the produce of labour, instead
of depending, as in so great a degree it now does, on the accident of
birth, will be made by concert on an acknowledged principle of justice;
and when it will no longer either be, or be thought to be, impossible
for human beings to exert themselves strenuously in procuring benefits
which are not to be exclusively their own, but to be shared with the
society they belong to." ("Autobiography," pp. 231-232). On this passage
Mr. Cairnes observes:--"If to look forward to such a state of things as
an ideal to be striven for is socialism, I at once acknowledge myself a
socialist; but it seems to me that the idea which 'socialism' conveys to
most minds is not that of any particular form of society to be realized
at a future time when the character of human beings and the conditions
of human life are widely different from what they now are, but rather
certain modes of action, more especially the employment of the powers of
the State for the instant accomplishment of ideal schemes, which is the
invariable attribute of all projects generally regarded as socialistic.
So entirely is this the case that it is common to hear any proposal
which is thought to involve an undue extension of the power of the State
branded as socialistic, whatever be the object it may seek to
accomplish. After all, the question is one of nomenclature merely; but
people are so greatly governed by words that I cannot but regret that a
philosophy of social life with which I so deeply sympathize should be
prejudiced by verbal associations fitted, as it seems to me, only to
mislead." ("Leading Principles of Political Economy," p. 316.)

Mr. Cairnes's objection is just; for a reformer's position ought to be
determined, not by the distant ideal he may think best, if the
conditions were ripe for its realization, but by the policy which he
counts to be of present importance under the conditions that exist. He
may cherish, as many orthodox economists do, the socialist hope. He may
look for a time when comfort and civilization shall be more universally
and securely diffused; when heads and hands in the world of labour shall
work together in amity; when competition and exclusive private property
and self-interest shall be swallowed up in love and common labour. But
he knows that the transformation must be gradual, and that the material
conditions of it must never be pushed on in advance of the intellectual
and moral. And this cuts him off by a whole diameter, from those who are
now known as socialists. In every question of the day he will be found
in an opposite camp from them. For he makes the ideal what it is and
ought to be--the goal of his action; they make it their starting-point,
and the peculiarity of the case is that with their view of the situation
they cannot make it anything else. For to their mind the struggle they
are engaged in is not a struggle for amelioration, but for plain and
elementary right. It is not a question of providing greater happiness
for the greatest number; it is a question of doing them bare justice, of
giving them their own, of protecting them against a disguised but very
real expropriation. They declare that, under the present industrial
arrangements, the labouring classes are in effect robbed of most of the
value of the work of their hands, and of course the suppression of
systematic robbery is an immediate obligation of the present. Justice is
a basis to start from now, if possible, and not a dream to await
hereafter. First let the labouring man have his rights, they cry, and
then, and then only, shall you have the way clear for any further parley
about his future. It is true that he is not the victim of individual
rapacity so much as of the system, and that he cannot get his rights
till the system is completely changed; but the system, they argue, can
never be completely changed except by the power of the State, and why
then not change it at once? Now, it is obvious how, to people who take
this view of the matter, there should seem no other alternative but an
instant reconstruction of industrial society at the hands of the State.
For if it is justice that has to be done, then it appears only natural
to conclude that it falls upon the State, as the organ of justice, to do
it, and that it cannot do it too soon. The demand for the immediate
accomplishment of their scheme by public authority is thus no accidental
accessory of it merely, but is really inseparable from the ideas on
which the scheme is founded. It is, in fact, so much, if I may use the
word, the _note_ of socialism wherever socialism makes itself heard in
the world now, that it can only produce confusion to give the name of
socialist to persons who hold this note in abhorrence, and virtually
desire no more than the gradual triumph of co-operation.

It may be answered that the latter, like the former, aim not at a mere
reform of the present industrial system, but at an essential change in
its fundamental principles--at an eventual suppression of exclusive
property and unrestricted competition--and that it is therefore only
proper to classify them with those who seek the like important end,
however they may differ from the latter as to the means and seasons of
action. This might be right, perhaps, if our only consideration were to
furnish a philosophical classification of opinions; but we have to deal
with a living and agitating party whose name and work are much
canvassed, and there is at any rate great practical inconvenience in
extending the current designation of that party so as to include persons
who object strongly to its whole immediate work.

The inconvenience has doubled since Mill's time, because socialism has
now become a much more definite programme of a much more definite party.
Even in the old romantic schools the ruling characteristic of socialism
was always its effort to realize some wrong view of distributive
justice. It was more than merely an impracticable plan for the
extinction of poverty, or the more equable diffusion of wealth, or the
correction of excessive inequalities, although that seems to be so
prevailing an impression that persons who have what they conceive more
feasible proposals to offer for these purposes put them forward under
the name of Practicable Socialism. But so far as these purposes go, they
are common to almost all schools of social reformers, even the most
individualist. If socialism meant only feeling earnestly about those
inequalities, or desiring earnestly their redress, or even strongly
resenting their inconsistency with an ideal of justice, then Mr. Herbert
Spencer is as much a socialist as either Marx or Lassalle. "The fates of
the great majority," says he, "have ever been, and doubtless still are,
so sad that it is painful to think of them. Unquestionably the existing
type of social organization is one which none who care for their kind
can contemplate with satisfaction; and unquestionably men's activities
accompanying this type are far from being admirable. The strong
divisions of rank and the immense inequalities of means are at variance
with that ideal of human relations on which the sympathetic imagination
likes to dwell; and the average conduct, under the pressure and
excitement of social life as at present carried on, is in sundry
respects repulsive." ("A Plea for Liberty," p. 4.) Socialists are far
from being the only persons whose sense of justice is offended by much
in the existing _régime_, and many very moderate politicians have held
that the policy of the law should always favour the diffusion of wealth
rather than its concentration; that it should always favour the active
business interest rather than the idle interest; that it should always
favour the weaker and more unprotected interest rather than the more
powerful and the more contumelious. The socialism comes in not with the
condemnation of the existing order of things, but with the policy
recommended for its correction. There is no socialism in recognising the
plain fact that the gifts of fortune, whether riches or talents, are not
distributed in the world according to merit. There is no socialism in
declaring that the rich, by reason of their riches, have
responsibilities towards the poor; or that the poor, by reason of their
poverty, have claims upon the rich. Nor is there any socialism in
holding that the State has responsibilities towards the poor, and that
the law ought, when necessary, to assert the reasonable claims of
poverty, or enforce the reasonable duties and obligations of wealth. All
that merely says that justice and humanity ought to govern in economic
affairs, as they ought to govern in all other affairs of life; and this
is an axiomatic position which nobody in the world denies. Only,
axiomatic though it is, it seems to dawn on many minds like a revelation
late in life, and they feel they are no longer as other men, and that
they must henceforth call themselves socialists. This awakening to the
injustice or inhumanity of things is not socialism, though socialism may
often proceed out of it. Socialism is always some scheme for the removal
of one injustice by the infliction of a greater--some scheme which, by
mistaking the rights and wrongs of the actual situation, or the natural
operation of its own provisions, or any other cause, would leave things
more inequitable and more offensive to a sound sense of justice than it
found them. The rich idler, for example, is always a great offence to
the socialist, because, according to the socialist sense of justice, no
man ought to be rich without working for his riches; and many other
people will possibly agree with the socialist in that. But then the
socialist proposes to abolish the rich idler by a scheme which would
breed the poor idler in overwhelming abundance, and for the sake of
equalizing poverty and wealth, would really equalize indolence and
industry--at once a more fatal and a more offensive form of injustice
than that which it was designed to redress. Socialists find fault with
the present order of things because the many workers support the few
idlers; but most of the old socialist communities of France and America
failed because of the opposite and greater injustice, that the few
workers found themselves supporting the many idlers, and the consequence
was a more harrowing sense of unfairness and a more universal
impoverishment than prevailed under the old system. The rich idler who
merely lives on what he has inherited may not belong to an ideal state
of society; but the poor idler, who shirks and dawdles and malingers,
because an indulgent community relieves him of the necessity of harder
exertion, is equally unideal, and he is much more hurtful in the

But the socialists, in their mistaken ideas of justice, do not stop at
the rich idler. The rich idler is, in their view, a robber; but the rich
worker is a greater robber still. It is characteristic of socialist
thought to hold the accumulations of the rich to be in some sort of way
unjustly acquired by spoiling the poor. The poor are always represented
as the disinherited; their property is declared to have been taken from
them perforce by bad laws and bad economic arrangements and delivered
without lien into the hands of the capitalists. This view lived and
moved in the old socialism, but it has been worked into a reasoned and
professedly scientific argument as a basis and justification for the
new. The old socialism usually exclaimed against the justice of
interest, rent, property, and all forms of labourless income; but the
new socialism pretends to prove the charge by economic principles. It
alleges that all these forms of income are so many different forms of
plundering the working classes, who are the real producers of wealth,
and it sets up a claim on behalf of those classes to the whole value of
the things they produce without any deductions for rent, interest, or
profit--the right, as they call it, of the labourer to the whole produce
of his labour. Now this is a very distinct and definite claim of right
and justice, and the whole final object of the socialist organizations
of the present day is to get it realized, and realized at once, as
claims of right and justice ought, and must, by the powers of the State.
I shall have better opportunities at a later part of this work of
proving how absolutely unfounded and unjust is this claim; but I mention
it here merely to show that the essence of modern socialism is more and
more unmistakably revealing itself as an effort to realize some false
ideal of social or distributive justice. This is the deepest and most
ruling feature of socialism, and it really necessitated the advance of
the movement from the philanthropic to the political stage. The Owenites
were content with the idea of a voluntary equality of wealth; but that
is now dismissed as the mere children's dream, for popular rights are
things to be enforced by law, and questions of justice are for the
State. The political character of the movement has only brought forward
into stronger relief the distorted ideal of justice which gave it being;
and it has therefore become much more confusing than it formerly was for
one to call himself a socialist merely because he dreams of better
things to come, or because he would like to extinguish poverty, or to
diffuse property, or to extend the principle of progressive taxation, or
promote co-operation or profit-sharing, or any other just or useful
measures of practical social reform. That is shown very well by a simple
little tidemark. In the old days it was still possible, though it never
was a happy choice, for Maurice and the promoters of the new
co-operation movement to assume the designation of Christian Socialists;
but although Schultze-Delitzsch was working on the same lines with even
greater _éclat_ at the time when the present socialistic movement began
in Germany, he was left so far behind that he was thought the great
anti-socialist, and the people to whom it was now considered appropriate
to transfer the name of socialists were a set of university professors
and others who advocated a more extended use of the powers of the State
for the solution of the social question and the satisfaction of
working-class claims.

The Socialists of the Chair and the Christian Socialists of Germany
contemplate nothing beyond correctives and palliatives of existing
evils; but then they ask the State to administer them. They ask the
State to inspect factories, or to legalize trades unions, or to organize
working-class insurance, or to fix fair wages. Their requests may be
wise or foolish, but none of them, nor all of them together, would
either subvert or transform the existing industrial system; and those
who propound them are called socialists merely because they make it part
of the State's business to deal with social questions, or perhaps more
particularly because they make it the State's business to deal with
social questions in the interest of the working class. This idea of
socialism seems largely to govern the current employment of the term. We
often hear any fresh extension of the functions of the State condemned
as socialistic even when the extension is not supposed to be made in the
interests of the working class, or to be conducive to them. The purchase
of the telegraphs was socialistic; the proposal to purchase the railways
is socialistic; a national system of education is socialistic; and an
ecclesiastical establishment, if it were now brought forward as a new
suggestion, would be pronounced socialistic too. Since, in a socialistic
community, all power is assigned to the State, any measure which now
increases the power of the State gets easily represented as an approach
to socialism, especially in the want--and it is one of our chief wants
at present--of a rational and discriminating theory of the proper limits
and sphere of public authority.

But in the prevailing use of the word, there is generally the idea that
the intervention of authority to which it is applied is undertaken to
promote the well-being of the less fortunate classes of society. Since
socialism seeks to construct what may be called a working class State,
where the material welfare of each shall be the great object of the
organization of all, it is common to represent as socialistic any
proposal that asks the State to do something for the material well-being
of the working class, and to describe any group of such proposals, or
any theory that favours them, by the name of socialism. The so-called
State-socialism of Prince Bismarck, for example, is only, as he has
himself declared, a following-out of the traditions of the House of
Hohenzollern, the princes of that dynasty having always counted it one
of their first duties as rulers to exercise a special protection and
solicitude over the poorer classes of their subjects. The old ideas of
feudal protection and paternal government have charms for many minds
that deplore the democratic spirit of modern society. In Germany they
have been maintained by the feudal classes, the court, and the clergy;
their presence in the general intellectual atmosphere there has probably
facilitated the diffusion of socialistic views; and they have certainly
led to the curious phenomenon of a Conservative socialism, in which the
most obstinately Conservative interests in the country go to meet the
Social Democrats half way, and promise to do everything to get them
better wages if they will but come to church again and pray for the
Kaiser. The days of feudal protection and paternal government are gone;
as idealized by Carlyle, they perhaps never existed; at any rate, in an
age of equality they are no longer possible, but their modern
counterparts are precisely the ideas of social protection and fraternal
government which find their home among socialists. On the strength of
this analogy, Prince Bismarck and the German Emperor are sometimes
spoken of as socialists, because they believe, like the latter, that the
State should exercise a general or even a particular providence over the
industrial classes. But socialism is more than such a belief. It is not
only a theory of the State's action, but a theory of the State's action
founded on a theory of the labourer's right. It is at bottom, as I have
said, a mistaken demand for social justice. It tells us that an
enlargement of social justice was made when it was declared that every
man shall be free--or, in other words, that every man shall possess
completely his own powers of labour; and it claims that a new
enlargement of social justice shall be made now, to declare that every
man shall possess the whole produce of his labour. Now those who are
known as Conservative Socialists, in patronizing the working people, do
not dream of countenancing any such claim, or even of admitting in the
least that there is anything positively unjust in the present industrial
system. None of them would go further than to say that the economic
position of the labourer is insufficient to satisfy his legitimate
aspirations in a civilized community; few of them would go so far. It is
therefore highly confusing to class them among socialists.

M. Limousin, again, speaks of a "minimum of socialism." He would call no
man a socialist who does not hold this minimum, and he would call every
man a socialist who does hold it. And the minimum of socialism, in his
opinion, is this, that the State owes a special duty of protection to
labourers because they are poor, and that this duty consists in securing
to them a more equitable part in the product of general labour. The
latter clause might have been better expressed in less general terms,
but that may pass. The definition recognises at any rate that the
paternal or the fraternal theory of government does not of itself
constitute socialism, and that this must be combined with the demand for
a new distribution of wealth, on supposed grounds of justice or equity,
before we have even the minimum of socialism. But it would have been
more correct if it had recognised that the demand for a better
distribution must be made not merely on _supposed_, but on _erroneous_
grounds of justice or equity. If the proposed distribution is really
just and equitable, nothing can surely be more proper than to ask the
State to do its best to realize it and any practicable intervention for
that purpose is only a matter of the ordinary expansion of the law. What
is law, what is right, but a protection of the weak? and all legal
reform is a transition from a less equitable to a more equitable system
of arrangements. The equitable requirements of the poor are the natural
concern of the State on the narrowest theory of its functions, and M.
Limousin's definition would really include all rational social reformers
under the name of socialist.

If we are in this way to stretch the word socialism first to the one
side, till it takes in J. S. Mill and Maurice and the co-operators, who
repudiate authority and State help, and then on the other side, till it
takes in Prince Bismarck, and our own aristocratic Conservative Young
England Party, and all social reformers who want the State to do its
ordinary duty of supplying the working classes with better securities
for the essentials of all humane living, how can there be any rational
and intelligible use of the word at all? Mill holds a more or less
socialistic idea of what a just society would be; Bismarck holds a more
or less socialistic view of the functions of the State; but neither of
these ideas separately make up the minimum of socialism; and it would
therefore be misleading to call either of them by that name, while to
call both by it would be hopeless confusion, since the one politician
holds exactly what the other rejects, and no more. But, after all, it is
of less importance to define socialism in the abstract than to describe
the actual concrete socialism that has organization and life, especially
as the name is only transferred in common speech to all these varying
shades of opinion, because they are thought to resemble that concrete
socialism in one feature or another.

Having now ascertained the general nature of the contemporary
socialistic movement, we shall be in a better position to judge of its
bearings and importance. We have seen that the only form of socialism
which has come to life again since 1848 is the political and
revolutionary phase of Social Democracy. Now, this was also the original
form in which socialism first appeared in modern Europe at the time of
the earlier Revolution of 1789. The tradition it represents is
consequently one of apparently vigorous vitality. It has kept its place
in European opinion for a hundred years, it seems to have grown with the
growth of the democratic spirit, and it has in our own day broken out
simultaneously in most of the countries of the Continent, and in some of
them with remarkable energy. A movement like this, which seems to have
taken a continuous and extensive hold of the popular mind, and which
moreover has a consciousness of right, a passion for social justice,
however mistaken, at the heart of it, cannot be treated lightly as a
political force; but at the same time its consequence is apt to be
greatly overrated both by the hopes of sanguine adherents and by the
apprehensions of opponents. Socialists are incessantly telling us that
their system is the last word of the Revolution, that the current which
broke loose over Europe in 1789 is setting, as it could not help
setting, in their direction, and that it can only find its final level
of repose in a democratic communism. Conservative Cassandras tell us
the same thing, for the Extreme Right takes the same view as the Extreme
Left does of the logical tendency of measures. They feel things about
them moving everywhere towards equality, they feel themselves helpless
to resist the movement, and they are sure they shall waken one morning
in a social revolution. Stahl, for example, thought democracy
necessarily conducted to socialism, and that wherever democracy entered,
socialism was already at the door. A few words will therefore be still
necessary towards explaining, first, the historical origin of modern
socialism; second, the relations of socialism to democracy, and,
finally, the extent and character of the spread of the present movement.

Respecting the first of these three points, modern socialism was
generated out of the notions about property and the State which appeared
towards the close of last century in the course of the speculations then
in vogue on the origin and objects of civil society, and which were
proclaimed about the same time by many different writers--by Brissot, by
Mably, by Morelly, and above all by Rousseau. Their great idea was to
restore what they called the state of nature, when primitive equality
still reigned, and the earth belonged to none, and the fruits to all.
They taught that there was no foundation for property but need. He who
needed a thing had a right to it, and he who had more than he needed was
a thief. Rousseau said every man had naturally a right to whatever he
needed; and Brissot, anticipating the famous words of Proudhon, declared
that in a state of nature "exclusive property was theft." It was so in a
state of nature, but it was so also in a state of society, for society
was built on a social contract, "the clauses of which reduce themselves
to one, viz., the total transfer of each associate, with all his rights,
to the community." The individual is thus nothing; the State is all in
all. Property is only so much of the national estate conditionally
conceded to the individual. He has the right to use it, because the
State permits him, while the State permits him, and how the State
permits him. So with every other right; he is to think, speak, train his
children, or even beget them, as the State directs and allows, in the
interest of the common good.

These ideas circulated in a diffuse state till 1793. They formed as yet
neither system nor party. But when Joseph Baboeuf, discarding his
Christian name of Joseph (because, as he said, he had no wish for
Joseph's virtues, and so saw no good in having him for his patron
saint), and taking instead the ominous name of Caius Gracchus, organized
the conspiracy of the _Egaux_ in that year, then modern socialism began,
and it began in the form in which it still survives. Baboeuf's ambition
was to found what he called a true democratic republic, and by a true
democratic republic he meant one in which all inequalities, whether of
right or of fact, should be abolished, and every citizen should have
enough and none too much. It was vain, he held, to dream of making an
end of privilege or oppression until all property came into the hands of
the Government, and was statedly distributed by the Government to the
citizens on a principle of scrupulous equality. Misled by the name Caius
Gracchus, people thought he wanted an agrarian law and equal division.
But he told them an agrarian law was folly, and equal division would not
last a twelvemonth, if the participants got the property to themselves.
What he wanted, he said, was something much more sublime--it was
community of goods. Equality could only be made enduring through the
abolition of private property. The State must be sole proprietor and
sole employer, and dispense to every man his work according to his
particular skill, and his subsistence in honourable sufficiency
according to his wants. An individual who monopolized anything over and
above such a sufficiency committed a social theft. Appropriation was to
be strictly limited to and by personal need.

Baboeuf saw no difficulty in working the scheme; was it not practised
every day in the army, with 1,200,000 men? If it were said, the soil of
France is too small to sustain its population in the standard of
sufficiency contemplated, then so much the worse for the superfluous
population; let the greater landlords first, and then as many
sansculottes as were redundant, be put out of the way for their
country's good. He actually ascribed this intention to Robespierre, and
spoke of the Terror as if it were an excellent anticipation of
Malthusianism. Did any one say that, without inequalities, progress
would cease and arts and civilization decay, Baboeuf was equally
prepared to take the consequences. "Perish the arts," said a manifesto
discovered with him at his apprehension, "but let us have real
equality." "All evils," he said in his newspaper, "are on their trial.
Let them all be confounded. Let everything return to chaos, and from
chaos let there rise a new and regenerated world."

We have here just the revolutionary socialist democracy that is still
rampant over Europe. Socialists now, indeed, generally make light of the
difficulty of over-population which Baboeuf solved so glibly with the
guillotine, and they contend that their system would humanize
civilization instead of destroying it. They follow, too, a different
tradition from Baboeuf regarding the right of property. While he built
that right on need, they build it on labour. He said the man who has
more than he needs is a thief; they say the man who has more than he
wrought for is a thief. He would have the State to give every man an
honourable sufficiency right off, according to his need; they ask the
State to give every man according to his work, or, if unfit for work,
according to his need, and they hold that this rule would afford every
one an honourable sufficiency. But these differences are only
refinements on Baboeuf's plan, and its main features remain--equality of
conditions, nationalization of property, democratic tyranny, a uniform
medium fatal to progress, an omnipresent mandarin control crushing out
of the people that energy of character which W. von Humboldt said was
the first and only virtue of man, because it was the root of all other
excellence and advancement. In short, socialists now seek, like Baboeuf,
to establish a democratic republic--a society built on the equal manhood
of every citizen--and, like Baboeuf, they think a true democratic
republic is necessarily a socialistic one.

This brings me to the next point I mentioned, the interesting problem of
the true relations of socialism to democracy. Is socialism, as Stahl and
others represent, an inevitable corollary of democracy? If so, our
interest in it is very real and very immediate. For democracy is already
here, and is at present engaged in every country of Europe in the very
work of reorganizing the social system into harmony with democratic
requirements. Its hammer may make little sound in some places, but the
work proceeds none the less effectually for the silence, and it will
proceed, slowly or more rapidly, until all the institutions of the
country have been renovated by the democratic spirit. Will the social
system, which will result from the process, be socialism? "The gradual
development of the principle of equality," says De Tocqueville, "is a
providential fact. It has all the characteristics of such a fact. It is
universal; it is durable; it constantly eludes all human interference;
and all events, as well as all men, contribute to its progress. Would it
be wise to imagine that a social movement, the causes of which lie so
far back, can be checked by the efforts of one generation? Can it be
believed that the democracy which has overthrown the feudal system and
vanquished kings will retreat before tradesmen and capitalists? Will it
stop now that it has grown so strong, and its adversaries so weak?" If,
then, the natural tendency of democracy is to socialism, to socialism we
must eventually go.

But the natural tendency of democracy is not to socialism. A single
plain but remarkable fact suffices to establish that. Democracy has been
in full bloom in America for more than a century, and there are no
traces of socialism there except among some German immigrants of
yesterday; for, of course, the communism of the eccentric religious
sects of America proceeds from religious ideals, and has no bearing one
way or other on the social tendency of democracy. The labouring class is
politically everything in that country--everything, at least, that
electoral power can make them in an elective republic; and they have
never shown any desire to use their political power to become socially
everything or to interfere with the freedom of property. Had this been
in any way the necessary effect of democratic institutions, it must have
by this time made its appearance in the United States. De Tocqueville,
indeed, maintains that so far from there being any natural solidarity
between democracy and socialism, they are absolutely contrary the one to
the other. "Democracy," he said in a speech in the Republican Parliament
of France in 1849, "extends the sphere of individual independence;
socialism contracts it. Democracy gives every individual man his utmost
possible value; socialism makes every man an agent, an instrument, a
cipher. Democracy and socialism coincide only in the single word
equality, but observe the difference: democracy desires equality in
liberty; socialism seeks equality in compulsion and servitude."

That is so far substantially true, but it cannot be received altogether
without qualification. We have had experience in modern times of two
different forms of democracy, which may be called the American and the
Continental. In America equality came as it were by nature, without
strife and without so much as observation; the colonists started equal.
But freedom was only won by sacrifice; the first pilgrims bought it by
exile; the founders of the Republic bought it a second time by blood.
Liberty therefore was their treasure, their ark, their passion; and
having been long trained in habits of self-government, they acquired in
the daily exercise of their liberty that strong sense of its practical
value, and that subtle instinct of its just limits, which always
constitute its surest bulwarks. With them the State was nothing more
than an association for mutual protection--an association, like any
other, having its own definite work to do and no more, and receiving
from its members the precise powers needed for that work and no more;
and they looked with a jealousy, warm from their history and life, on
any extension of the State's functions or powers beyond those primary
requirements of public safety or utility which they laid upon it. In the
United States property is widely diffused; liberty has been long enjoyed
by the people as a fact, as well as loved by them as an ideal; the
central authority has ever been held in comparative check; and
individual rights are so general a possession that any encroachment upon
them in the name of the majority would always tread on interests
numerous and strong enough to raise an effectual resistance. Democracy
has in America, accordingly, a soil most favourable to its healthy
growth; the history, the training, and the circumstances of the people
all concur to support liberty.

But on the Continent democracy sprang from very different antecedents,
and possesses a very different character. Equality was introduced into
France by convulsion, and has engrossed an undue share of her attention
since. Freedom, on the other hand, has been really less desired than
power. The Revolution found the affairs of that country administered by
a strong centralized organization, with its hand everywhere and on
everything, and the Revolution left them so. Revolution has succeeded
revolution; dynasties and constitutions have come and gone; almost every
part of the political and social system has suffered change; the form of
government has been republic, empire, monarchy, empire and republic
again; but the authority of government, its sphere, its attributes, have
remained throughout the same. Each party in succession has seized the
power of the State, but none has sought to curb its range. On the
contrary, their temptation lay the other way; they have been always so
bent on using the authority and mechanism of government to impair or
suppress the influence of their adversaries, whom they regarded as at
the same time the adversaries of the State, that they could only wish
that authority to be larger and that mechanism more perfect than they
already were. Even the more popular parties are content to accept the
existing over-government as the normal state of affairs, and always
strive to gain the control of it rather than to restrain its action. And
so it has come about that, while they sought liberty for themselves,
they were afraid to grant it to their opponents, for fear their
opponents should be able to get the authority of this too powerful
administration into their hands and serve them in the same way. The
struggle for freedom has thus been corrupted into a struggle for power.
That is the secret of the pathetic story of modern France. That is why,
with all her marvellous efforts for liberty, she has never fully
possessed it, and that is why she seems condemned to instability.

A growing minority of the democratic party in France is indeed opposed
to this unfortunate over-government, but the democratic party in general
has always countenanced it, perhaps more than any other party, because
to their minds government represents the will of the people, and the
people cannot be supposed to have any reason to restrain its own will.
Besides, they are still dominated by the doctrines of Rousseau and the
other revolutionary writers who looked with the utmost contempt on the
American idea of the State being a kind of joint-stock association
organized for a circumscribed purpose and with limited powers, and who
held the State, on the contrary, to be the organ of society in all its
interests, desires, and needs, and to be invested with all the powers
and rights of all the individuals that compose it. Under the social
contract, by which they conceived the State to be constituted,
individuals gave up all their rights and possessions to the community,
and got them back immediately afterwards as mere State concessions,
which there could be no injustice in withdrawing again next day for the
greater good of the community. Instead of enjoying equal freedom as men,
the great object was to make them enjoy equal completeness as citizens.

From historical conditions like these there has sprung up on the
Continent--in Germany as well as France--a quite different type of
democracy from the American, and this type of democracy, while it may
not be the best, the truest, or the healthiest type of it, has a
tendency only too natural towards socialism. It contains in its very
build and temperament organic conditions that predispose it to socialism
as to its peculiarly besetting disease. It evinced this tendency very
early in the history of the Revolution. As Ledru-Rollin reminded De
Tocqueville, in replying to his speech, the right to labour on the part
of the strong and the right to assistance on the part of the weak were
already acknowledged by the Convention of 1793. Claims like these
constitute the very A B C of socialism, and they have always moved with
more or less energy in the democratic tradition of the Continent.
Democracy, guided by the spirit of freedom, will resist socialism; but
authoritative democracy, such as finds favour abroad, leans strongly
towards it. A democratic despotism is obviously more dangerous to
property than any other, inasmuch as the despot is, in this case, more
insatiable, and his rapacity is so easily hid and even sanctified under
the general considerations of humanity that always mingle with it.

It is therefore manifest that the question whether political democracy
must end in social, is one that cannot be answered out of hand by
deduction from the idea. The development will differ in different
countries, for it depends on historical conditions, of which the most
important is that I have now touched on, whether the national character
and circumstances are calculated to guide that development into the form
of democratic liberty, or into the form of democratic tyranny. A second
condition is scarcely less important, viz., whether the laws and
economic situation of the country have conduced to a dispersion or to a
concentration of property. For even in the freest democracy individual
property can only be permanently sustained by diffusion, and, if
existing conditions have isolated it into the hands of the few, the many
will lie under a constant, and, in emergencies, an irresistible
temptation to take freedom in their hand and force the distribution of
property by law, or nationalize it entirely by a socialistic
reconstruction. It used to be a maxim in former days that power must be
distributed in some proportion to property, but with the advent of
democracy the maxim must be converted, and the rule of health will now
be found in having property distributed in some proportion to power.
That is the natural price of stability under a democratic _régime_. A
penniless omnipotence is an insupportable presence. When supreme power
is vested in a majority of the people, property cannot sit securely till
it becomes so general a possession that a majority of the people has a
stake in its defence, and this point will not be reached until at least
a large minority of them are actually owners, and the rest enjoy a
reasonable prospect of becoming so by the exercise of care and diligence
in their ordinary avocations.

The belief of Marx and modern socialists, that the large system of
production, with its centralized capital and its aggregation of
workpeople in large centres, must, by necessary historical evolution,
end in the socialist State, is, as Professor A. Menger has pointed out,
not justified by history. The latifundia and slavery of the decline of
the Roman empire were not succeeded by any system of common property,
but by the institutions of mediæval law which made the rights of private
property more absolute and exclusive. And in our own time the tendency
to concentration of property in the hands of a few great capitalists is
being corrected by the newer tendency to joint stock management, _i.e._,
to the union and multiplication of small capitalists; and this is of
course a tendency back from, and not on towards, the social revolution
Marx conceived to be imminent. But though the modern concentration of
wealth may not for the moment be increasing, and if it were, may not on
that account necessarily spell socialism, it certainly spells social
peril; and the future, therefore, stands before us with a solemn choice:
either property must contrive to get widely diffused peacefully, or it
will be diffused by acts of popular confiscation, or perhaps be
nationalized altogether; and the fate of free institutions hangs upon
the dilemma. For in a democratic community the peril is always near. De
Tocqueville may be right in saying that such communities, if left to
themselves, naturally love liberty; but there are other things they love
more, and this profound political philosopher has himself pointed out
with what exceptional vigour they nourish two powerful passions, either
of which, if it got the mastery, would prove fatal to freedom. One is
the love of equality. "I think," says he, "that democratic communities
have a natural taste for freedom; left to themselves they will seek to
cherish it, and view every privation of it with regret. But for equality
their passion is ardent, insatiable, insistent, invincible; they call
for equality in freedom, and if they cannot obtain that, they still call
for equality in slavery. They will endure poverty, servitude, pauperism,
but they will not endure aristocracy." The other is the unreined love of
material gratification. By this De Tocqueville does not mean sensual
corruption of manners, for he believes that sensuality will be more
moderate in a democracy than in other forms of society. He means the
passion for material comfort above all other things, which he describes
as the peculiar passion of the middle classes; the complete absorption
in the pursuit of material well-being and the means of material
well-being, to the disparagement and disregard of every ideal
consideration and interest, as if the chief end and whole dignity of man
lay in gaining a conventional standard of comfort. When a passion like
this spreads from the classes whose vanity it feeds to the classes
whose envy it excites, social revolution is at the gates, and this is
one of De Tocqueville's gravest apprehensions in contemplating the
advance of democracy. For he says that the passion for material
well-being has no check in a democratic community except religion, and
if religion were to decline--and the pursuit of comfort undoubtedly
impairs it--then liberty would perish. "For my part," he declares, "I
doubt whether man can ever support at once complete religious
independence and entire public freedom; and I am inclined to think that
if faith be wanting in him he must serve, and if he be free he must
believe." It is impossible, therefore, in an age when the democratic
spirit has grown so strong and victorious, to avoid taking some
reasonable concern for the future of liberty, more especially as at the
same time the sphere and power of government are being everywhere
continually extended, the devotion to material well-being, and what is
called material civilization, is ever increasing, and religious faith,
particularly among the educated and the working classes, is on the

This is exactly the rock ahead of the modern State, of which we have
been long warned by keen eyes aloft, and which seems now to stand out
plainly enough to ordinary observers on the deck. Free institutions run
continual risk of shipwreck when power is the possession of the many,
but property--from whatever cause--the enjoyment of the few. With the
advance of democracy a diffusion of wealth becomes almost a necessity of
State. And the difficulty only begins when the necessity is perceived.
For the State cannot accomplish any lasting or effective change in the
matter without impairing or imperilling the freedom which its
intervention is meant to protect--without, in short, becoming socialist,
for fear of socialism; and when it has done its best, it finds that the
solution is still subject to moral and economic conditions which it has
no power to control. In trade and manufactures which occupy such vast
and increasing proportions of the population of modern countries, the
range of the State's beneficial or even possible action is very little;
and in these branches the natural conditions at present strongly favour
concentration or aggregation of capital. The small masters have simply
been worsted in ordinary competition with the large producers, and so
long as the large system of production continues the cheapest system of
production, no other result can be expected. The social problem,
therefore, so far as these branches are concerned, is to discover some
form of co-operative arrangement which shall reconcile the large system
of production with the interests of the labouring class, unless,
indeed--what is far from impossible--the large system of production is
itself to be superseded in the further advance of industrial
development. The economic superiority of that system depends greatly on
the circumstance that the power now in use--water or steam--necessitates
the concentration of machinery at one spot. Mr. Babbage predicted fifty
years ago that if a new power were to be discovered that could be
generated in a central place in quantities sufficient for the
requirements of a whole community, and then distributed, as gas is,
wherever it was wanted, the age of domestic manufactures would return.
Every little community might then find it cheaper, by saving carriage,
and availing itself of cheaper local labour, to manufacture for itself
many of the articles now made for it at the large mills; and the small
factory or workshop, so suitable, among other advantages, for
co-operative enterprise, would multiply everywhere. Now, have we such a
power in electricity? If so, not the least important effect of the new
agent will be its influence on the diffusion of wealth, and its aid
towards the solution of the social problem of the nineteenth century.

With land and agriculture the situation is somewhat different. The
distribution of landed property has always depended largely on legal
conditions; and since these conditions have--in this country at
least--wrought for two centuries in favour of the aggregation of
estates, their relaxation may reasonably be expected to operate to some
extent in the contrary direction. Too much must not be built on this
expectation, however, for the natural conditions are at present, at
least, as partial to the large property as the legal. The abolition of
entail and primogeniture, by emancipating the living proprietor from the
preposterous tyranny of the dead, and by bringing to the burdened the
privilege of sale, must necessarily throw greater quantities of land
into the market than reach it now, but the redistribution of that land
will as necessarily conform to the existing social and economic
circumstances of the country; and England will never cease to be
characterized by the large property, so long as its social system lends
exceptional consideration to the possession of land, and its commercial
system is continually creating an exceptional number of large fortunes.
The market for the large estate is among the wealthy, who buy land as an
instrument of enjoyment, of power, of social ambition; and what with the
wealth made at home and the wealth made in the colonies, the number of
this class is ever on the increase; the natural market for the small
estate, on the other hand, is among the farming class, to whom land is a
commercial investment, and the farmers of England, unlike those of other
countries, unlike those of our own country in former days, are as a rule
positively indisposed to purchase land, finding it more profitable to
rent it. This aversion, however, is much more influential with large
farmers than with small ones. It is commonly argued as if a small farmer
who has saved money will be certain to employ it in taking a more
extensive holding, but that is not so. On the contrary, he more usually
leaves it in the bank; in some parts of Scotland many small farmers have
deposits of from £500 to £1000 lying there at interest; they studiously
conceal the fact, lest their landlords should hear of it, and raise
their rent, and they submit to much inconvenience rather than withdraw
any portion of it, once it is deposited. Their ruling object is security
and not aggrandisement, and consequently if land were in the market in
lots to suit them, they would be almost certain to become purchasers of
land. In forecasting the possibility of the rise of a peasant
proprietary in this country, it is often forgotten that, whether land is
a profitable investment for the farmer or not, the class of farmers from
whom such a proprietary would be generated is less anxious for a
profitable investment than for a safe one, and that to many of them, as
of other classes, independence will always possess much more than a
commercial value.

But, however this may be, land is distributed by holdings as well as by
estates, and in connection with our present subject the distribution by
holdings is perhaps the more important thing of the two. "The magic of
property" is no exclusive prerogative of the soil; ownership in stock
will carry the same political effects as ownership in anything else; and
a satisfactory system of tenant right may yield all the social and
economic advantages of a peasant proprietary. In fact, tenant right, so
far as it goes, is proprietorship, and it has before now developed into
proprietorship even in name. The old lamented yeomanry of England were,
the great majority of them, copyholders, and a copyholder was simply a
tenant-at-will whose tenant right was consolidated by custom into a
perpetual and hereditary property; and if the soil of England will ever
again become distributed among as numerous a body of owners as held it
in former ages, it will most likely occur through a similar process of
consolidation of tenant right. But as it is--and though this is a
truism, it is often overlooked in discussions on the subject--the
tenants are owners as well as the landlords; their interests enlist them
on the side of stability; they have a stake in the defence of property;
and even though the prevailing tendency to the accumulation of estates
continues unchecked, its peril to the State may be mitigated by the
preservation and multiplication of small and comfortable holdings, which
shall nourish a substantial and independent peasantry, and supply a hope
and ambition to the rural labourers. This is so far well. We know that
it is an axiom with Continental socialists that a revolution has no
chance of success, however well supported it may be by the artisans of
the towns, if the peasantry are contented and take no part in it; and
the most serious feature in more than one of the great countries of
Europe at this moment is the miserable condition into which their
agricultural labourers have been suffered to fall, and their practical
exclusion from all opportunities of raising themselves out of it. The
stability of Europe may be said to rest on the number of its comfortable
peasantry; the dam of the Revolution is the small farm. This is not less
true of England than of the Continent, for although the agricultural
population is vastly outnumbered by the industrial in this country, that
consideration really increases rather than diminishes the political
value of sustaining and multiplying a contented tenantry.

Now England is the classical country of the large farm as well as of
the large estate. Its holdings have always been larger than those of
other nations; they were so when half of them were owned by their
occupiers, they are so still when they are rented from great landlords.
The large farms have grown larger; a holding of 200 acres was counted a
very large farm in the time of the Commonwealth; it would be considered
a very moderate one in most English counties now. But yet the small farm
has not gone the way of the small estate. The effects of consolidation
have been balanced to such a degree by a simultaneous extension of the
area of cultivation that the number of holdings in England is probably
more considerable than it ever was before. If we may trust Gregory
King's estimate, there were, 200 years ago, 310,000 occupiers of
holdings in England, 160,000 owners, and 150,000 tenants; in 1880 there
were, exclusive of allotments, which are now numerous, 295,313 holdings
of 50 acres and under, and 414,804 holdings altogether. Moreover, the
future of the small farm is much more hopeful than the future of the
small estate or the small factory. All admit the small holding to be
preferable to the large for dairy farming and market gardening; and
dairy farms and market gardens are two classes of holdings that must
continue to multiply with the growth of the great towns. But even with
respect to corn crops, it is now coming to be well understood that the
existing conditions of high farming would be better satisfied by a
smaller size of holding than has been in most favour with agricultural
reformers hitherto; because then, and then only, can the farmer be
expected to bestow upon every rood of his ground that generous
expenditure of capital, and that sedulous and minute care which are now
necessary to make his business profitable. Without entering on the
disputed question of the comparative productiveness of large and small
farms, it ought to be remembered, in the first place, that the economic
advantage of the large farm--the reason why the large farmer has been
able to offer a higher rent than the smaller--is not so much because he
produces more, as because he can afford to produce less; and, in the
next place, that the small farmer has heretofore wrought, not only with
worse appliances than the large--which perhaps he must always do--but
also with less knowledge of the theory of his art, and worse conditions
of tenure--in both of which respects we may look for improvement in the
immediate future. Even as it is, we find small farmers equalling the
highest production of the country. In the evidence before the Duke of
Richmond's Commission, there is a case of a farmer of three acres
producing 45 bushels per acre, or about twice the average of the season
in those bad years that impoverished the larger farmers. The same body
of evidence seems to prove that the small farmer has more staying
power--a better capacity of weathering an agricultural crisis--than the
large; for he has much less frequently petitioned for a reduction of
rent--an advantage which landlords may be expected not to overlook. He
enjoys, too, a monopoly of the superior efficiency of interested labour,
and as the personal efficiency of the labourer--his skill, his
knowledge, his watchfulness, his care--are becoming not less, but more
important with the growth of scientific farming, whether in corn raising
or cattle rearing, the small farm system will probably continue to hold,
if not to enlarge, its place in modern agriculture; and if it is able to
do so, it will constitute one of the best buttresses against the social

It remains to mark the spread of socialism in the various countries of
Europe and America, and to describe its present position; but this I
shall reserve for next chapter.



Socialism being now revolutionary social democracy, we should expect to
find it most widely and most acutely developed in those countries where,
1st, the social condition of the lower classes is most precarious, or,
in other words, where property and comfort are ill distributed; 2nd,
where political democracy is already a matter of popular agitation; and,
3rd, where previous revolutions have left behind them an unquiet and
revolutionary spirit--a "valetudinary habit," as Burke calls it, "of
making the extreme medicine of the State its daily bread." That is very
much what we do find. All these conditions are present in Germany--the
country in which socialism has made the most remarkable and rapid
advance. Dr. Engel, head of the Statistical Bureau of Prussia, states
that in 1875 six million persons, representing, with their families,
more than half the population of that State, had an income less than £21
a year each; and only 140,000 persons had incomes above £150. The number
of landed proprietors is indeed comparatively large. In 1861 there were
more than two millions of them out of a population of 23,000,000; and in
a country where half the people are engaged in agriculture this would,
at first sight, seem to offer some assurance of general comfort. But
then the estates of most of them are much too small to keep them in
regular employment or to furnish them with adequate maintenance. More
than a million hold estates of less than three acres each, and averaging
little over an acre, and the soil is poor. The consequence is that the
small proprietor is almost always over head and ears in debt. His
property can hardly be called his own, and he pays to the usurer a much
larger sum annually as interest than he could rent the same land for in
the open market. More than half of these small estates lie in the Rhine
provinces alone, and the distressed condition of the peasantry there has
been lately brought again before the attention of the legislature. But
while thus in the west the agricultural population suffers seriously
from the excessive subdivision of landed property, they are straitened
in the eastern and northern provinces by their exclusion from it. Prince
Bismarck, speaking of the spread of socialism in a purely agricultural
district like Lauenburg, which had excited surprise, said that this
would not seem remarkable to any one who reflected that, from the land
legislation in that part of the country, the labourers could never hope
to acquire the smallest spot of ground as their own possession, and were
kept in a state of dependence on the gentry and the peasant proprietors.
Half the land of Prussia is held by 31,000 persons; and emigration,
which used to come chiefly from the eastern provinces, where subdivision
had produced a large class of indigent proprietors, proceeds now
predominantly from the quarters where large estates abound. The
diminution of emigration from the Rhine provinces is indeed one cause of
the increase of distress among the peasant proprietary; but why
emigration has ceased, when there seems more motive for it, is not so
clear. As yet, however, socialism has taken comparatively slight hold of
the rural population of Germany, because they are too scattered in most
parts to combine; but there exists in that country, as in others, a
general conviction that the condition of the agricultural labourers is
really a graver social question than the condition of the other
industrial classes, and must be faced in most countries before long.
Socialism has naturally made most way among the factory operatives of
Germany, who enjoy greatest facilities for combination and mutual
fermentation, and who besides, while better off in respect to wages than
various other sections of workpeople, are yet the most improvident and
discontented class in the community. Then, in considering the
circumstances of the labouring classes in Germany, it must be remembered
that, through customs and indirect taxation of different kinds, they pay
a larger share of the public burdens than they do in some countries, and
that the obligation of military service is felt to be so great a
hardship that more than a third of the extensive emigration which now
takes place every year from the German Empire is prompted by a desire to
escape it. Before the establishment of the Empire, only about a tenth
part of the emigrants left the country without an official permit; but
the proportion has been rising every year since then, and sometimes
comes to nearly a half.

Under these circumstances neither the strength nor the progress of the
Social Democratic party in that country affords occasion for surprise.
At the last general election, in February, 1890, this party polled more
votes than any other single party in the Empire, and returned to the
Imperial Diet a body of representatives strong enough, by skilful
alliances, to exercise an effective influence on the course of affairs.
The advance of the party may be seen in the increase of the socialist
vote at the successive elections since the creation of the Empire.

     In 1871 it was   101,927.
      " 1874   "      351,670.
      " 1877   "      493,447.
      " 1878   "      437,438.
      " 1881   "      311,961.
      " 1884   "      549,000.
      " 1887   "      774,128.
      " 1890   "    1,427,000.

The effect of the coercive laws of 1878, as shown by these figures, is
very noteworthy. In consequence of the successive attempts made in that
year on the life of the Emperor William by two socialists, Hoedel and
Nobiling, Prince Bismarck determined to stamp out the whole agitation
with which the two criminals were connected by obtaining from the Diet
exceptional and temporary powers of repression. The first effect of
these measures was, as was natural, to disorganize the socialist party
for the time. Hundreds of its leaders were expelled from the country;
hundreds were thrown into prison or placed under police restriction; its
clubs and newspapers were suppressed; it was not allowed to hold
meetings, to make speeches, or to circulate literature of any kind. In
the course of the twelve years during which this exceptional legislation
has subsisted, it was stated at the recent Socialist Congress at Halle,
that 155 socialist journals and 1200 books or pamphlets had been
prohibited; 900 members of the party had been banished without trial;
1500 had been apprehended and 300 punished for contraventions of the
Anti-Socialist Laws. These measures paralyzed the old organization
sufficiently to reduce the Socialist vote at the next election in 1881
by thirty per cent.; but the party presently recovered its ground. It
adapted itself to the new conditions, and established a secret
propaganda which was manifestly quite as effective for its purposes as
the old, and charged with more danger to the State. Its vote increased
immensely at each successive election thereafter; and now, as Rodbertus
prophesied, the social question has really proved "the Russian campaign
of Bismarck's fame," for his policy of repression has ended in tripling
the strength of the party it was designed to crush, and placing it in
possession of one-fifth of the whole voting power of the nation. It was
high time, therefore, to abandon so ineffectual a policy, and the
socialist coercive laws expired on the 30th September, 1890, and the
socialists inaugurated a new epoch of open and constitutional agitation
by a general congress at Halle in the beginning of October.

The strength of the party in Parliament has never corresponded with its
strength at the polls. In 1871 it returned only 1 member to the Diet; in
1874, 9; in 1877, 12; in 1878, 9; in 1881, 12; in 1884, 24; in 1887, 11;
and in 1890, with an electoral vote which, under a system of
proportional representation, would have secured for it 80 members, it
has carried only 37. The party has no leaders now, in Parliament or out
of it, of the intellectual rank of Lassalle or Marx; but it is very
efficiently led. Its two chiefs, Liebknecht and Bebel, are well skilled
both in debate and in management, and have for many years maintained
their authority in a party peculiarly subject to jealousy and intrigue,
and have consolidated its organization under very adverse conditions.
Liebknecht, who is a journalist of most respectable talents, character,
and acquirements, is now the veteran of the movement, having been out in
the '48 and passed twelve years of political exile in London in constant
intercourse with Karl Marx. Bebel, a turner in Leipzig, is a much
younger man, and, indeed, is one of Liebknecht's converts, for he
opposed the movement when it was first started in Leipzig by Lassalle;
but he has fought so long and so stout a battle for his cause that he
too seems now one of its veterans. The other parliamentary leaders of
the party are for the most part still under thirty. Von Volmar, a
military officer who has left the service for agitation and journalism,
seems to be the older leaders' chief lieutenant; and Frohme, a young
_littérateur_ of repute, may be mentioned because he heads a tendency to
more moderate policy.

Owing to the paucity of its representatives, the party has hitherto made
little attempt to initiate legislation. No bill can be introduced into
the German Diet unless it is backed by fifteen members; and, except in
the Parliament of 1884-7, the Socialist party never had fifteen members
until last February. The work of its parliamentary representatives,
therefore, has consisted mainly of criticism and opposition, and seizing
every suitable occasion for the ventilation of their general ideas; but
after the election of 1884, when they returned to the Diet twenty-four
strong, they introduced first a bill for the prohibition of Sunday
labour, which was stoutly opposed by Prince Bismarck, and defeated; and
second, a Labourer's Protection Bill, proposing to create an elaborate
organization for securing the general wellbeing of the working class. It
was to create, first, a new Labour Department of State; second, a series
of Workmen's Chambers, one for every district of 200,000 or 400,000
inhabitants, with the necessary number of local auxiliaries; third,
Local Courts of Conciliation for the settlement of differences between
labourers and employers, from whose decision there should be an appeal
to the Workmen's Chamber of the District. Both the Court of Conciliation
and the Workmen's Chamber were to be composed of an equal number of
employers and employed. The connection between the Workmen's Chambers of
the District and the Minister of Labour would be through District
Councils of Labour, the members of which were to be chosen by the
minister out of a list presented by the Workmen's Chamber of the
District, and containing twice the number of names required to fill the
places. It was to be the duty of these Councils of Labour to send a
report every year to the Labour Department in Berlin on the condition
of labour in their respective districts after an annual inspection of
all the factories, workshops, and industrial establishments of any kind
located there. The Workmen's Chambers were to have a wide _rôle_, and
were the keystone of the system. Besides being the courts of final
appeal in labour disputes, they were to bring to the knowledge of the
competent authorities the existence of any disorders or grievances that
occurred in industrial life; to give advice on the best laws and
regulations for industry; to undertake inquiries into all matters
affecting the conditions of labour, treaties of commerce, taxes, rates
of wages, technical education, housing, prices of subsistence, etc.

In introducing the bill, its promoters said a chief object of the whole
organization was to obtain for working men higher wages for a shorter
day's work, and they proposed the immediate reduction of the day of
labour to eight hours for miners and ten hours for all other trades,
together with some further limitations on the work of women and
children, the abolition of prison work at ordinary trades, and of Sunday
work, and the requirement of the payment of wages weekly, and their
payment in money. The bill was referred to a committee of the House, and
rejected, after that committee brought up an unfavourable report in
February, 1886, and nothing further has been done in the matter since;
but the Minister of the Interior was so much struck with the
unexpectedly moderate and practical character of its proposals that he
said if these proposals expressed the whole mind of the members who
proposed them, then those members might as well sit on the right side of
the House as on the left. The effect of the bill, as far as it was
workable, would merely be to give the working class a real and
systematic, but not unequal, voice in settling the conditions of their
own labour; and its rejection is to some extent an example of the way
the socialist agitation impedes the cause of labour by creating in the
public mind an unnecessary distrust even of reasonable reforms.

There are some questions of general policy on which the socialist
deputies take up a position of their own. They always oppose the
military budget, because, like socialists everywhere, they are opposed
to all war and armaments. Wars are merely quarrels of rulers, for
peoples would make for peace, and armaments only drain the people's
pockets in order to perpetuate the people's oppression. Then they are
opposed to national debts, because national debts enable rulers to carry
on war. They are opposed to the new colonization policy of the Empire,
because in their opinion it is a policy of aggrandisement and conquest
undertaken under hypocritical pretences. They are opposed to protective
duties, because they dislike indirect taxation, as bearing always
unjustly on the labouring class. They are strong supporters of popular
education, but they opposed the new insurance laws because they feared
these laws would place people too much under the power of the
Government, for their jealousy of the Government that exists corrects
their general partiality for Government control, and tends to keep them
back even from some of the minor excesses of State-socialism.

The moderate and apparently temporizing policy of the deputies is a
constant source of dissatisfaction to the wilder and more inexperienced
members of the party, who complain, as they did at the recent Halle
Congress, that trying to improve the present system of things is not the
best way of subverting it, and who will either have socialism _cum_
revolution, or they will have nothing at all. But the older heads merely
smile, and tell them the hour for socialism and revolution is not yet,
that no man knows when it shall be, and that in the meantime it would be
mere folly for socialists to refuse the real comforts they can get
because they think they have ideally a right to a great deal more.
"Why," said Bebel, when he was charged at Halle with countenancing
armaments in violation of socialist principles by voting for a better
uniform to the soldiers,--"why, there are numbers of Social Democrats in
the Reserve, and was I to let them die through inadequate clothing
merely because I object to armaments as a general principle?"

They of course think of this policy of accommodation as only a temporary
necessity, till they become strong enough to be thoroughgoing; but there
is perhaps better reason to believe it to be an abiding and growing
necessity of their position, for they are finding themselves more and
more obliged, if they are to become stronger at all, or even to keep the
strength they have, to bid for the support of aggrieved classes by
working for the immediate removal of their grievances, and thus to keep
on reducing day by day as it rises the volume of that social discontent
which is to turn the wheel of revolution. It is not unlikely that the
socialist party, now that it is sufficiently powerful to do something in
the legislature, but not sufficiently powerful to think of final social
transformation, will occupy themselves much more completely with those
miscellaneous social reforms in the immediate future; that they will
thereby become every day better acquainted with the real conditions on
which social improvement depends; that they will find more and more
satisfying employment in the exercise of their power of securing
palpable, practical benefits, than in agitating uncertain theoretical
schemes; and, in short, that they will settle permanently into what they
are for the present to some extent temporarily, a moderate labour party,
working for the real remedy of real grievances by the means best
adapted, under real conditions, national or political, for effecting the

The programme of the party, which was adopted at the Gotha Congress of
1875, after the union of the Marxist socialists and the Lassalleans, and
has remained unaltered ever since, has always consisted of a deferred
part and an actual. It contains, in fact, three programmes--the
programme for to-day, the programme for to-morrow, and the programme for
the day after to-morrow. The last is of course the socialist State of
the future, at present beyond our horizon altogether. Before it appears
there is to be a more or less prolonged period in which individual
management of industry is to be gradually superseded by co-operative
societies founded on State credit; but this intermediate state was only
made an article of the programme to conciliate the Lassalleans, and one
hears less of productive associations to-day from the German socialists
than from the French. The Germans would apparently prefer to go from
private property to public property direct rather than go _viâ_
corporate property; but in any case their programme leaves the creation
of productive societies to a future period, and their task for the
present is to secure for working men factory and sanitary legislation,
constitutional liberties, and an easier and more equitable system of

The programme is as follows:--

"I. Labour is the source of all wealth and civilization, and since
productive labour as a whole is made possible only in and through
society, the entire produce of labour belongs to society, that is, it
belongs by an equal right to all its members, each according to his
reasonable needs, upon condition of a universal obligation to labour.

"In existing society the instruments of labour are the monopoly of the
capitalist class; the dependence of the labouring class which results
therefrom is the cause of misery and servitude in all forms.

"The emancipation of labour requires the conversion of the instruments
of labour into the common property of society, and the management of
labour by association, and the application of the product with a view to
the general good and an equitable distribution.

"The emancipation of labour must be the work of the labouring class, in
relation to which all other classes are only a reactionary mass.

"II. Starting from these principles, the Socialistic Labour Party of
Germany seeks by all lawful means to establish a free State and a
socialistic society, to break asunder the iron law of wages by the
abolition of the system of wage-labour, the suppression of every form of
exploitation, and the correction of all political and social inequality.

"The Socialistic Labour Party of Germany, although at first working
within national limits, is sensible of the international character of
the labour movement, and resolved to fulfil all the duties thereby laid
on working men, in order to realize the brotherhood of all men.

"The Socialistic Labour Party of Germany demands, in order to pave the
way for the solution of the social question, the establishment by State
help of socialistic productive associations under the democratic control
of the workpeople. Productive associations for industry and agriculture
should be created to such an extent that the socialistic organization of
all labour may arise out of them.

"The Socialistic Labour Party of Germany demands, as the basis of the
State, (1) Universal, equal, and direct suffrage, together with secret
and obligatory voting, for all citizens over twenty years of age, in all
elections in State and commune. The election day must be a Sunday or
holiday. (2) Direct legislation by the people. Decision on peace or war
by the people. (3) Universal liability to military service. Militia
instead of standing army. (4) Abolition of all exceptional laws,
especially laws interfering with liberty of the press, of association,
and of meeting; in general, all laws restricting free expression of
opinion, free thought, and free inquiry. (5) Administration of justice
by the people. Gratuitous justice. (6) Universal, compulsory,
gratuitous, and equal education of the people by the State. Religion to
be declared a private affair.

"The Socialistic Labour Party of Germany demands within the conditions
of existing society (1) The utmost possible extension of political
rights and liberties in the sense of the above demands. (2) The
replacement of all existing taxes, and especially of indirect taxes,
which peculiarly burden the people, by a single progressive income tax
for State and commune. (3) Unrestricted right of combination. (4) A
normal working day corresponding to the needs of society. Prohibition of
Sunday labour. (5) Prohibition of the labour of children, and of all
labour for women that is injurious to health and morality. (6) Laws for
protection of the life and health of workmen. Sanitary control of
workmen's dwellings. Inspection of mines, factories, workshops, and home
industry by officers chosen by working men. An effective employers'
liability act. (7) Regulation of prison labour. (8) Entire freedom of
management for all funds for the assistance and support of working men."

A committee was appointed at the recent Halle Congress to revise this
programme and report to the Congress of 1891; but as the revision is
merely intended to place the programme in greater conformity with the
needs of the time, and keep it as it were up to date, only minor
modifications may be expected, and those probably in the direction of a
more practical and effectual dealing with existing grievances. Five
years ago the party thought a ten hours' day corresponded with the needs
of the time; they now ask for an eight hours' one. Instead of the
prohibition of Sunday labour, they now prefer to demand, as a more
workable equivalent, a period of thirty-six hours' continuous and
uninterrupted rest every week, irrespective of any particular day; and
they have sometimes taken up new working-class questions not especially
mentioned in their programme, or included directly under any of its
heads, like the abolition of payment of wages in kind. The whole spirit
of the late Congress leads us to look for the contemplated modifications
in this direction of meeting more effectually immediate working-class

Many eyes were upon that Congress; for it was the first the German
socialists had held since they had recovered their freedom and proved
their strength. They were now clearly stronger than any socialist party
the world had yet seen, and much stronger than most revolutionary
parties who have made successful revolution. Would then the word now be
revolution? people asked. It was not: the word was caution. The first
effect of the victory in February had been otherwise, and in June, Herr
Bebel was still calling, Steady. "The majority of his party colleagues,"
he said at a public meeting in Berlin on the 20th of that month, "had
been intoxicated by the result of the elections of February 20th, and
believed they could do what they liked with the middle class, as it was
already on the point of going under." But before October steadier
counsels prevailed, and the spirit of the Congress was moderation
itself. Although the Congress did not agree to the motion to restore to
the party programme the phrase "by lawful means," which had been deleted
from the opening paragraph of the second part of it by the Wyden
Congress of 1880, in consequence of the Anti-Socialist Laws no longer
giving them any choice except recourse to unlawful means, the general
and decided feeling of the Congress certainly was that only lawful means
could now answer their purposes. The controversy was repeatedly raised
by an extreme section of the party from Berlin, who complained that the
work of their parliamentary representatives had hitherto entirely
ignored the real aims of social democracy, and that a return should now
be made to its socialism and its revolution. But the voice of the
meeting was invariably against this Berlin movement. There was a time,
said M. Fleischman--and his speech was applauded--when it was counted
the right thing in the party to make revolutionary speeches, and point
to the coming day of account when mankind were to be emancipated at one
blow; but that was not a road they could make any progress by. And as
for boycotting, which had been spoken of, he declared he was all for
boycotting; but it was the boycotting of the military in such a way as
to give them no occasion for the use of their weapons. Liebknecht, the
chief leader of the party, followed, and was quite as emphatic in the
same line. People spoke of revolution, he said; but they should remember
that roast pigeons don't fly into one's mouth by themselves. It was easy
enough to make bitter speeches, and any fool and donkey could throw
bombs; but the misadventures of the anarchists showed plainly enough
that nothing could be done in that way. The socialists had now 20 per
cent. of the population; but what could 20 per cent. do against 80 per
cent. by the use of force? No, it was not force; it was reason they must
use if they would succeed. What, then, he asked, was the Social
Democracy to do? They must avoid divisions among themselves, and go out
and convert the still indifferent masses. The electoral suffrage was
their best weapon of agitation, and their surest means of increasing the
party. Prince Bismarck had been represented in a popular book as
practising peasant-fishery and elector-fishery. "Peasant-fishery and
elector-fishery--" said Liebknecht, amid much applause, "that is the
word for the Social Democrats to-day."

Another suggestion of the extreme section was that the party should now
assail the Church and religion, as socialist and revolutionary parties
have so generally done; but this bit of their old traditional policy
received scant regard from the Halle Congress. A strong feeling was
expressed that the party had damaged itself in the past by its assaults
on the Church, and that its present policy ought, in self-preservation,
to be one of religious neutrality and toleration. "Instead," said
Liebknecht, "of squandering our strength in a struggle with the Church
and sacerdotalism, let us go to the root of the matter. We desire to
overthrow the State of the classes. When we have done that, the Church
and sacerdotalism will fall with it, and in this respect we are much
more radical and much more definite in purpose than our opponents, for
we like neither the priests nor the anti-priests." The old revolutionary
policy of stirring up hatred against all existing institutions is thus
relegated from the present to the distant future, after the present
class-State is overthrown and the working-class or socialist State
established in its place.

"Well, then," suggested another old-world socialist, "let us, at any
rate, issue a pamphlet describing the glories of this socialist State,
and get the people prepared to flock into it"; but this suggestion was
also frowned down. "For," said Liebknecht, "who could say what the
_Zukunft Staat_--the socialist State of the future--is to be? Who could
foresee so much as the development of the existing German State for a
single year?" In other words--I think I am not misinterpreting their
meaning--the State of the future is the concern of the future; the
business of a living party is within the needs and within the lines of
the living present.

What, then, is to be the business of this formidable Social Democratic
party? Peasant-catching is the word. The elections showed that while the
party was very strong in the large towns, it was very weak in the rural
districts, and among special populations like the Poles and Alsatians;
and although previous revolutionists thought everything was gained if
the large towns were gained, the Social Democrats generally admit that
the social revolution is impossible without the adherence of the
peasantry. The peasants, therefore, must be won over to the party. Once
in the party, they may learn socialism and revolution, but they must
first be brought in, and for that purpose there must be started a
special peasants' cry--a cry, that is, for the redress of some immediate
grievance of that class; and one suggestion made at the Congress was,
that the cry for the peasantry should be the abolition of the German
_Gesinde_ (farm-servant) system. In the same spirit the Congress
recommended the parliamentary party to take up the question of seamen's
rights, and agitate for better regulations for securing the wellbeing of
that class. The advance towards practicality is even more evident in
their determination upon strikes. Hitherto, for the most part,
socialists have either looked on strikes with lofty disdain as poor
attempts to get a petty rise in wages instead of abolishing the present
wages system altogether, or they have thrown themselves into strikes for
the mere purpose of fomenting labour troubles, and breaking perchance
the power of the large capitalist class; and this latter view was not
unrepresented at the Halle Congress. The resolution of the Congress,
however, declared (1st) that strikes and boycotting were often useful
means of improving the social position of the labouring class; but (2nd)
that they were to be resorted to even for that purpose with great
circumspection. "Whereas, however, strikes and boycotting are
double-edged weapons which, when used in unsuitable places and at an
inopportune moment, are calculated to do more harm than good to the
interests of the working class, this Congress recommends German working
men carefully to weigh the circumstances under which they purpose to
make use of those weapons." The revolutionary ideal seems thus to be
retreating--perhaps insensibly--in the socialistic mind into an
eschatological decoration, into a kind of future Advent which is to come
and to be believed in; but the practical concerns of the present must be
more and more treated in their own practical way.

Since the Congress, the party has issued a manifesto to the peasantry,
in which, after promising a new and happy day that is coming for them,
which is to restore to them the beautiful earth and the poetry of life,
they declare against the patriarchal system, and the increase of brandy
distilling; and then, confessing that few socialists know anything about
agricultural questions, invite information and discussion for the
enlightenment of the party. Here again they forget that they have a
theory which is as applicable to agriculture as to manufactures, and
they want to make practical investigations with a view to practical

Of course the movement will always generate revolutionary elements as
occasions arise, and these sometimes of the wildest character. Most and
Hasselman, and their following, who were expelled at the Congress of
Wyden in 1880, were anarchists of a violent type, and Mosts and
Hasselmans may arise again. But at present anarchism hardly exists in
Germany, and the Social Democratic party is peacefully trying to make
people as comfortable as possible till the fulness of time arrives.

It may be added that the present income of the party, as stated at the
last Congress, is £19,525, and that since February, 1890, they have
established nineteen daily newspapers and forty weekly, with a total
circulation of 254,000.

The socialist movement in other countries may be disposed of much more
briefly, for in no other country has it worn anything like the same
importance, except in Russia, and of the Russian agitation I shall treat
more fully in a subsequent chapter on "Russian Nihilism." I may observe
here, however, that the Russian agitation has not been without its
influence on the nations of Western Europe. It was Bakunin who first
kindled the socialist movements of Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Holland,
and the anarchist fermentations of the last six years have been due in
no inconsiderable measure to the new leaven of Russian ideas introduced
by men like Prince Krapotkin and the two hundred other Russian refugees
that are scattered abroad in the free countries of Europe.

In France there is much animated socialist agitation, but no solid and
coherent socialist party such as exists in Germany. The movement is
disunited and fragmentary, and confined almost entirely to the large
towns, where many circumstances conspire to favour its growth. The
French working class are born to revolutionary traditions. The better
portion of them, moreover, though they long since gave up all belief in
the old native forms of socialism, never ceased to be imbued with
socialist ideas and aspirations; and M. de Molinari said in 1869, from
his experience of French working men's clubs, that out of every ten
French working men who had any interest beyond eating and drinking, nine
were Socialists. Then there is in France a larger proportion of the
working class than in most countries, who are kept in constant poverty
and discontent and commotion by their own improvident habits. A pamphlet
called "Le Sublime," which attracted considerable attention some years
ago, stated that only forty per cent. of the working men of Paris were
out of debt; and Mr. Malet reported to the English Foreign Office that
they were, as a body, so dissipated that none of them had grandchildren
or grandfathers. But, on the other hand, France enjoys a solid security
against the successful advance of socialism in her peasant proprietors.
Half the French population belong to that class, and their industry,
thrift, and comfort have long been held up to our admiration by
economists. According to M. de Lavergne, they are not so well fed, so
well clad, or so well lodged as the farm labourers of England; but,
living in a different climate, they have fewer wants, and are
undoubtedly more contented. Among people like these, passing their days
in frugal comfort and fruitful industry, and looking with quiet hope and
confidence to the future, socialism finds, of course, no open door. On
the contrary, every man of them feels he has something to lose and
nothing to gain by social revolution; the fear of socialism is, indeed,
one of the chief influences guiding their political action; and as they
are as numerous as all the other classes in the community put together,
their worldly contentment is a bulwark of enormous value to the existing
order of things. The impression of their substantial independence is so
marked that even the Frenchmen who were members of the International
Working Men's Association would not assent to the abolition of a peasant
proprietary, but always insisted, contrary to the principles of the
Association, on the continued maintenance of that system as a necessary
counterpoise to the power of the Government.

The present socialist groups and sects of France are all believers in
the so-called scientific socialism of Marx and Lassalle, and the most
important of them work for a programme substantially identical with that
of Gotha. Marx's ideas were introduced among the French by the
International, and they were adopted by a section of the Revolutionary
Committee of the Paris Commune, 1871; but after the suppression of the
Commune, they made so little stir for some years that Thiers declared,
in his last manifesto as President of the Republic, that socialism,
which was then busy in Germany, was absolutely dead in France. Its
recrudescence was chiefly due to the activity of the Communards. Some of
them had escaped to London, where they got into closer communion with
Marx and his friends; and in 1874, thirty-four of these refugees, all
military or administrative officers of the Commune, and most of them
not professed socialists before, issued a manifesto pronouncing entirely
for socialism, and describing the Commune as "the militant form of the
social revolution"; but it was not till after the amnesty of the
Communards, and their return from New Caledonia and elsewhere in 1880,
that the first sensible ripple of socialist agitation was felt in France
since the downfall of the second Republic. Numbers of socialist journals
began to appear, and a general congress of working men, held at Havre in
1880, adopted a programme modelled on the lines of that of the German
Social Democrats, and made preparations for an active propaganda and

The adoption of the socialistic programme, however, rent the Congress in
three, and the two opposite wings, the Co-operationists and the
Anarchists, withdrew and established separate organizations of their
own. The co-operationists, believing that the amelioration of the
working class would only come by the gradual execution of practicable
and suitable measures, and that these could only be successfully carried
by means of skilful alliances with existing political parties, declared
the Havre programme to be a programme for the year 2000, and that the
true policy of the working-class now was a policy of possibilities. This
last word is said to supply the origin of the term Possibilist, which
has now come to be applied not to this co-operationist party, but to one
of the two divisions into which the third or centre party of the Havre
Congress--the socialists--shortly afterwards split up.

The co-operationists formed themselves into a body known as the
Republican Socialist Alliance, which, as the name indicates, aims at
social reforms under the existing republican form of State. They have
held several congresses, their membership includes many well-known and
even eminent Radical politicians--M. Clemenceau, for example--and they
were supported by leading Radical journals, like _Le Justice_ and
_L'Intransigeant_; but their activity and their numbers have both
dwindled away, probably because their work was done sufficiently well
already by other political or working-class organizations.

The anarchists set up not a single organization, but a number of little
independent clubs, which agree with one another mainly in their dislike
of all constituted authority. They want to have all things in common,
somehow or other; but for master or superior of any sort they will have
none, be it king or committee. Their ideas find ready favour in France,
because they are near allied with the theory of the Revolutionary
Commune cherished among the Communards; and although there is no means
of calculating their numbers exactly, they are believed to be pretty
strong--at least, in the South of France. At the time of the Lyons
Anarchist trial, at which Prince Krapotkin was convicted, they claimed
themselves to have 8,000 adherents in Lyons alone. In 1886 the
authorities knew of twenty little anarchist clubs in Paris, which had
between them, however, only a membership of 1,500; and of these a
considerable proportion were foreign immigrants, especially Austrians
and Russians, with a few Spaniards. Some of these clubs are mainly
convivial, with a dash of treason for pungency; but others have an
almost devouring passion for "deeds," and are ever concerting some new
method of waging their strange guerilla against "princes, proprietors,
and parsons." When a new method is discovered, a new club is sometimes
formed to carry it out. For instance, the _Anti-propriétaires_, which is
said to be one of the best organized of the anarchist clubs, bind their
members (1) to pay no house-rent,--rent, of course, being theft, and
theft being really restitution; and (2) if the landlord at length
resorts to law against any of them for this default, to come to their
brother's help and remove his furniture to safer quarters before the
moment of execution. The group _La Panthère_, to which Louise Michel
belongs, and which has 500 members, and the group _Experimental Chemie_,
as their names indicate, prefer less jocular methods. The best known of
the anarchists are old Communards like Louise Michel herself and Élisée
Reclus, the geographer.

The third section of the Havre Congress contained the majority of the
119 delegates, and they formed themselves into the Socialist
Revolutionary Party of France, with the programme already mentioned,
which was carried on the motion of M. Jules Guesde.

This programme sets out with the declaration that all instruments of
production must be transferred to the possession of the community, and
that this can only result from an act of revolution on the part of the
working class organized as an independent political party, and then it
goes on to say that one of the best means of promoting this end at
present was to take part in the elections with the following platform:--

A. _Political._

1. Abolition of all laws restricting freedom of the press, of
association, or of meeting, and particularly the law against the
International Working Men's Association. Abolition of "work-books."

2. Abolition of the budget of public worship, and secularization of
ecclesiastical property.

3. Abolition of national debt.

4. Universal military service on the part of the people.

5. Communal independence in police and local affairs.

B. _Economic._

1. One day of rest in the week under legal regulation. Limitation of
working day to eight hours for adults. Prohibition of the labour of
children under fourteen, and limitation of work hours to six for young
persons between fourteen and sixteen.

2. Legal fixing of minimum wages every year in accordance with the price
of provisions.

3. Equality of wages of male and female labour.

4. Scientific and technical training for all children, as well as their
support at the expense of society as represented by the State and the

5. Support of the aged and infirm by society.

6. Prohibition of all interference on the part of employers with the
management of the relief and sustentation funds of the working classes,
to whom the sole control of these funds should be left.

7. Employers' liability guaranteed by deposit by employers proportioned
to number of workmen.

8. Participation of the workmen in drawing up factory regulations.
Abolition of employer's claim to punish the labourer by fines and
stoppages (according to resolution of the Commune of 27th April, 1871).

9. Revision of all agreements by which public property has been
alienated (banks, railways, mines, etc.). The management of all State
factories to be committed to the workmen employed in them.

10. Abolition of all indirect taxes, and change of all direct ones into
a progressive income tax on all incomes above 3,000 francs.

11. Abolition of the right of inheritance, except in the line of direct
descent, and of the latter in the case of fortunes above 20,000 francs.

At the congress of the party held at St. Etienne two years after this
programme was adopted, M. Brousse, a medical practitioner in Paris, and
a member of the Town Council, who had already shown signs of disputing
the leadership of M. Guesde, carried by a vote of thirty-six to
twenty-seven a motion for introducing some modifications, and the
minority seceded and set up a separate organization. In spite of
repeated efforts at reconciliation, the two sections of the French
socialists have never united again or been able even to work together
temporarily at an election. Besides personal jealousies, there are most
important differences of tendency keeping them apart. The Guesdists
accept the policy of Karl Marx as well as his economic doctrine: the
universal revolution, and the centralized socialist State, as well as
the theory of surplus value and the right to the full product of labour.
The Broussists, on the other hand, believe in decentralization, and
would prefer municipalizing industries to nationalizing them. They are
for giving the commune control of its own police, its own soldiers, its
own civil administration, its own judiciary; and they think the _régime_
of collective property can be best brought in and best carried on by
local bodies. They would have the towns take over their own gas, light,
and water supply, their omnibus and tramway traffic; but they would have
them take over also many of the common industries which never tend
towards monopoly or even call for any special control. They would
municipalize, for example, the bakehouses and the mealshops and the
granaries, apparently as supplying the necessaries of life, and they
would have various other branches of industry undertaken by the towns to
a certain limited extent, in order to provide suitable work for the
unemployed. Then in 1887 they added a fresh plank to their platform, and
asked for the establishment by municipalities, on public money or
credit, of productive associations to be owned--not, like the other
undertakings, by the municipality, but--by the working men employed in
them. This is a reappearance of the old policy of Lassalle, with the
difference that the productive associations are to be founded on
municipal and not on State credit; and the reappearance is not
surprising in France, because co-operative production has, on the whole,
been more successful in that country than in any other. Then another of
their demands is, that all public contracts should be subjected to such
conditions as to wages and hours of labour as the workmen's syndicates
approve; and in Paris they have already succeeded in obtaining this
concession from the Town Council so far as municipal contracts are
concerned. These workmen's syndicates are trade unions, which aim only
at bettering the position of their members without theoretical
prepossessions, but are quite as bold in their demands on the public
powers as the socialists, and apparently more successful. In 1885 their
claims included, not only an eight hours' day and a normal rate of fair
wages, but the fixing of all salaries under 500 francs, a credit to
themselves of 500,000,000 francs, and the gratuitous use of empty houses
by their members; and in 1886 they obtained from the Town Council of
Paris a furnished room, with free lighting and firing, and a subvention
of 20,000 francs, for the establishment of a Labour Bureau, to be a
centre for all working-class deliberations and intelligence, and a
registry for the unemployed.

The socialism of the Broussists is thus practically a municipal
socialism: municipal industries, municipal credit for working men's
productive associations, municipal concessions to trade unions; but all
this seems to the Guesdists to be mere tinkering, to be no better than
the possibilities of the Republican Socialist Alliance, and they have
for that reason given their rivals the name of Possibilists, which for
distinction's sake they still commonly bear. Neither section had any
representative in the Chamber of Deputies till 1889, when the Broussists
succeeded in returning M. Joffrin; but the Broussists have nine in the
Town Council of Paris. The Guesdists have more men of culture among
them; Guesde himself and Lafargue, Karl Marx's son-in-law, are both men
of ability and public position; but they have a smaller following, and
what they have is on the decline. Their sympathy with the principles of
German Socialism, their alliance with the German Socialist party is
against them, for the French working men have a very honest hatred of
the Germans, both from recollections of the war and from the pressure of
German industrial competition; and the feeling seems to be returned by
the Germans, for it appeared even among the socialists at the recent
congress at Halle, international and non-patriotic as socialists often
claim to be. One of the personal accusations that disturbed the sittings
of that congress was, that the leaders of the party had been discovered
in secret conference with the delegates of the French socialists, MM.
Guesde and Ferroul, who had been sent to greet their German comrades.

The Possibilists have no very eminent members, the most leading persons
among them being Brousse himself and MM. Allemane and Joffrin. But they
are not inconsiderable in number, and they are growing. They have 400
Circles of Social Studies all over the country, organized into six
regions, each with its regular regional congress, and all working under
a national executive committee and a general national congress, meeting
once a year. The future of French socialism seems to be with the
Possibilists rather than the Guesdists; and the future of the
Possibilists, like the future of the German socialists, seems to lie in
the direction of releasing their limbs from the dead clothes of
socialist theory, in order to take freer and more practical action for
the positive wellbeing of the working class. At the recent congress of
the Possibilists at Châtellèrault in October, 1890, the chief questions
discussed were the reform the system of poor relief and the eight hours'
day. They want an international eight hours' day, but they would be
willing to allow other four hours' overtime, to be paid for by double

In 1885 the two divisions of socialists combined for electioneering
purposes with one another and with a third revolutionary body called the
Blanquists, and they actually formed together an organization known as
the Revolutionary Union; but the three parties quarrelled again before
the election, and the union was dissolved. The Blanquists are disciples
of the veteran conspirator Blanqui, and include some well-known men,
such as General Eudes, and MM. Vaillant and Roche. They are
revolutionists pure and simple, and in some respects stand near the
anarchists; only, being old birds, they move about more cautiously, and
indeed are sometimes for that reason--and because they act as
intermediaries between other revolutionaries--called the "diplomatists
of lawlessness." With all their love for revolution, however, they have
more than the usual democratic aversion to war, and their chief work at
present is in connection with the league they have founded against
permanent armies.

Although revolutionary socialism is so ill represented in the French
Legislature, there is a special parliamentary party, known as the
Socialist Group, which was founded by nineteen deputies in 1887, and
returned thirty candidates to the Chamber at the election of 1889. They
are for communal autonomy; for the transformation of industrial
monopolies into public services, to be directed by the respective
companies under the control of the public administration; and for the
progressive nationalization of property, so as to make the individual
employment of it accessible to free labourers; and they have no lack of
other planks in their platform: international federation and
arbitration; abolition of standing armies; abolition of capital
punishment; universal suffrage; minority representation; sexual
equality; free education, primary, secondary, and technical; suppression
of the budget of public worship; separation of Church and State;
absolute liberty to think, speak, write, meet, associate, and contract;
abolition of indirect taxes and customs, and introduction of a
progressive income tax, and a progressive succession duty; public
_crêches_; establishment of superannuation, sick and accident insurance
at public expense. Among the deputies who signed the programme in 1887
were the two Boulangists, MM. Laisant and Laur, and MM. Clovis Hughes,
Basley, Bower, etc. The idea of the party seems to be what M. Laisant
recommends in his "L'Anarchie Bourgeoise," published in the same year
1887, a Republican Socialist party, which, accepting the good works of
socialism, without caring for its political or economic theory, shall do
its best to abolish misery by any means open to it under the existing
republican form of government. Republican socialism corresponds
therefore to what is called State socialism in Germany--the abolition of
poverty by means of the power of the present State; and the question
between socialists and other reformers is narrowing in France, as
elsewhere, into a question of the justice and the suitability of the
individual measures proposed.

There is also a body of Christian Socialists in France, of whom,
however, I shall have more to say in a subsequent chapter on the
Christian Socialists.

Socialism crossed very early from Prussia into Austria and took quick
root among the German-speaking population, but has never to this day
made much way among any of the other nationalities in the Empire. The
Magyars are, on the whole, fairly comfortable and contented in their
worldly circumstances, and they have a strong national aversion to
anything German, even a German utopia; so that they lent no ear to the
socialist agitation till 1880, when a socialist congress of 119
delegates was held at Buda Pest and founded the Hungarian Labour Party.
The agitation, however, has not assumed any important dimensions. The
Poles of Austria, like the Poles of Russia and the Poles of Prussia,
have all along been a source of much disappointment to socialist
leaders, who expected they would leap into the arms of any revolutionary
scheme, but find them too pre-occupied with their own nationalist cause
to care for any other. The same observation applies to the Czechs. They
are Czechs and Federalists first, and a social system under which they
would cease to be Czechs and Federalists, and become mere atoms under a
powerful centralized government, led possibly by Germans, is naturally
not much to their fancy. But in the German-speaking part of the monarchy
socialism has found a ready and general welcome, and has latterly grown
most popular in the anarchist form. This development is due to various
causes. The federalist ideas prevalent in the country would be a bridge
to the general principles of anarchism, while the coercive laws in force
since 1870 would naturally provoke a recourse to revolutionary methods
and an impatience with the sober and Fabian policy of the Austrian
Social Democrats. The Social Democrats of Austria were advised from the
first by Von Schweitzer and Liebknecht, the leaders of German socialism
at the time, to adopt this temporizing policy, as being on the whole the
best for the party in the circumstances existing in their country. They
were advised to give a general support at the elections to the Liberal
party, because nothing could be done for socialism in Austria till the
priestly and feudal ascendancy was abolished, and that could only be
done by strengthening the hands of the Liberals. They have continued to
observe this moderate course. Unlike their German comrades, they looked
with favourable eyes on the labour legislation introduced by Government
for improving the condition of the working classes; and though they have
suffered from coercive legislation much longer and sometimes quite as
severely, they have never struck the qualification "by legal means" out
of their principles, but, on the contrary, have declared, when they were
permitted to hold a meeting--as for example at Brünn in 1884--that they
adhered entirely and exclusively to peaceful methods, and repudiated the
deeds of the anarchists. But then they are apparently not prospering in
number, while the anarchists are. For one thing they have never had good
leaders, and though they sometimes invite Liebknecht or one of the
German socialist leaders to come and rouse them, Government has always
refused liberty for such addresses to be delivered in Austria. The
anarchists, on the other hand, had an energetic and eloquent leader in
Peukert, a house-painter, who is now a chief personage in anarchist
circles in London, and from here no doubt still carries on relations
with his old friends; and their propaganda seems to be spreading, if we
judge from the political trials, and from the fresh measures of
repression directed against it in 1884, when Vienna was put under siege,
and again in the latter part of 1888. They have nine or ten newspapers,
and the socialists six or seven. Neither faction has any representative
in Parliament.

Both parties direct their chief attention to the peasantry, especially
where any germ of an agrarian movement happens already to prevail. The
Galician agitation against great landlords in 1886 was fomented by
anarchist emissaries, and we occasionally hear of anarchist operations
among the people of Northern Bohemia or Styria as well as in Upper
Austria, where rural discontent has long been more or less acute.
Austria is mainly an agricultural country; but greater part of the land
is held in very large estates by the clergy and nobility, and the evils
of the old feudal _régime_ are only now being gradually removed. There
are, it is true, as many as 1,700,000 peasant proprietors in the
Cisleithanian half of the Empire alone; but then their properties are
seriously encumbered by the debt of their redemption from feudal
servitudes and by the severity of the public taxation. The land tax
amounts to 26 per cent. of the proprietor's income, and the indirect
taxes on articles of consumption are numerous and burdensome. But
three-fourths of the rural population are merely farm servants or day
labourers, and are worse off even than the same class elsewhere. The
social question in Austria is largely agrarian, but the spontaneous
movements of the Austrian peasantry seem rather unlikely to run in
harness with social democracy. Unions of free peasants for example have
sprung up of recent years in various provinces. Their great aim is to
procure a reduction in the taxes paid by the peasantry; but then they
add to their programme the principle of State-help to labour, the
abolition of all feudal privileges and all rights of birth, gratuitous
education, and cessation of the policy of contracting national debt, and
they speak vaguely about instituting a peasant State, and requiring
every minister and responsible official to serve an apprenticeship to
peasant labour as a qualification for office, in order that he may
understand the necessities and capacities of the peasantry. This idea of
the peasant State is analogous to the idea of the labour State of the
Social Democrats; but of course this is agreement which is really
conflict. It is like the harmony between Sforza and Charles VIII.: "I
and my cousin Charles are wonderfully at one; we both seek the same
thing--Milan." The class interest of the landed peasant is contrary to
the class interest of the working man, and would be invaded by social
democracy. The peasantry are simply fighting for their own land, and as
their votes are courted by both political parties they will probably be
able to secure some mitigation of their grievances. Distress is
certainly serious among them when, as happened a few years ago, in a
parish of 135 houses as many as 35 executions were made in one day for
failure to pay taxes, and in another of 250 houses as many as 72; but on
the whole there seems to be little of that hopeless indigence which
appears among the peasant proprietary in countries where the practice of
unrestricted or compulsory subdivision of holdings exists, or has
recently existed, to any considerable extent.

There is an influential Catholic Socialist movement in Austria, led by
the clergy and nobility, and dealing in an earnest spirit with the
social question as it appears in that country.

Socialism was introduced into Italy in 1868 by Bakunin, who, in spite of
the opposition of Mazzini, gained wide acceptance for his ideas wherever
he went, and founded many branches of the International in the country,
which survived the extinction of the parent society, and continued to
bear its name. They were, like Bakunin himself, anarchist in their
social and political views, and were marked by an especial violence in
their attacks on Church and State and family. They published a great
number of journals of various sorts, and kept up an incessant and very
successful propaganda; but no heed was paid them by the authorities till
1878, when an attempt on the life of the king led to a thorough
examination being instituted into the whole agitation. The dimensions
and ramifications of the movement were found to be so much more
extensive than any one in power had anticipated, that it was determined
to set a close watch thereafter on all its operations, and its meetings
and congresses were then from time to time proclaimed. But after the
passing of the Franchise Act of 1882, a new socialist movement came into
being which looked to constitutional methods alone. The franchise was
not reduced very low: it only gave a vote to one person in every
fourteen, while in England one in six has a vote; but the reduction was
accompanied with _scrutin de liste_ and the ballot, and it was felt
that something could now be done. Accordingly a new Socialist Labour
Party was formed on the usual Marxist lines, under the leadership of a
very capable man, an orator and a good organizer, Andrea Costa, who was
formerly an anarchist. This party obtained 50,000 votes at the first
subsequent election, and returned two candidates to the Legislature, one
of them being Costa. In 1883 it formed a working alliance with the
Italian Democratic Society--an active working-class body of which Costa
was a leading member; and in 1884 it entered into an incorporating union
with another working-class body, the Lombardy Labour Federation, which
had a large number of local branches. With their help it had become, in
1886, an organization of 133 branches, and Government resolved to
suppress it. Most of the branches in the north of Italy were dissolved,
and their funds, flags, and libraries confiscated. But the party is
still active over the country. They returned three members at the late
election in November, 1890. The growth of this party was even more
displeasing to the anarchists than to the Government, and in 1882 they
called back Maletesta, one of their old leaders, from abroad, to conduct
a regular campaign over the whole kingdom against Costa, and to denounce
every man for a traitor to the socialist cause who should take any
manner of part in parliamentary elections, or show the smallest sign of
reconciliation to the existing order of things. His campaign ended in
his arrest in May, 1883, and the condemnation of himself and 53 comrades
to several years' imprisonment for inciting to disturbance of the public
peace. Besides their contentions with the Socialist Labour Party, the
Italian anarchists are much given to contending among themselves, and
split up, even beyond other parties of the kind, upon trifles of
doctrine or procedure. But however divided they may be, socialists and
anarchists in Italy are all united in opposing the new social
legislation of the Government. When the Employers' Liability Bill was
introduced, Costa declared that legislation of that kind was utterly
useless so long as the people were denied electoral rights, because till
the franchise was reduced far enough to give the people a real voice in
public affairs, there could be no security for the loyal and faithful
execution of the provisions of such an act.

The Italian socialists and anarchists have always had a lively brood of
journals, which, however, are generally shorter lived than even
socialist organs elsewhere; but when one dies for want of funds to-day,
another comes out in its place to-morrow. This remarkable fertility in
journals seems to be due to the large literary proletariat that exists
in Italy--the unemployed educated class who could live by their pen if
they only had a paper to use it in. Through their presence among the
socialists new journals are pushed forward without sufficient funds to
carry them on, and as the people are too poor to subscribe to them, and
the party too poor to subsidize them, they soon come to a natural

The development of socialism in Italy is no matter of surprise. Though
there is no great industry in the country, the whole population seems a
proletariat. There is a distressed nobility, a distressed peasantry, a
distressed working class, a distressed body of university men. Mr.
Gallenga says that for six months of the year Italy is a national
workshop; everybody is out of employment, and has to get work from the
State; and he states as the reason for this, that the employing class
wants enterprise and ability, and are apt to look to the Government for
any profitable undertakings. The Government, however, are no better
financiers than the rest, and the state of the public finances is one of
the chief evils of the country. Taxation is very heavy, and yet property
and life are not secure. "The peasants," says M. de Laveleye, "are
reduced to extreme misery by rent and taxation, both alike excessive.
Wages are completely inadequate. Agricultural labourers live huddled in
bourgades, and obtain only intermittent employment. There is thus a
rural proletariat more wretched than the industrial. Excluded from
property by _latifundia_, it becomes the enemy of a social order that
crushes it." The situation is scarcely better in parts of the country
which are free from _latifundia_. In Sicily most of the agricultural
population live on farms owned by themselves; but then these farms are
too small to support them adequately, and their occupiers scorn the idea
of working for hire. There are as many nobles in Sicily as in England,
and Mr. Dawes (from whose report on Sicily to the Foreign Office in 1872
I draw these particulars states) that 25 per cent. of the lower orders
are what he terms drones--idlers who are maintained by their wives and
children. In Italy there is little working-class opinion distinct from
the agricultural. There are few factories, and the artisans who work in
towns have the habit of living in their native villages near by, and
going and coming every day to their work. Two-thirds of the persons
engaged in manufactures do so, or at least go to their rural homes from
Saturday till Monday. Their habits and ways of thinking are those of
agriculturists, and the social question of Italy is substantially the
agricultural labourers' question. The students at the universities, too,
are everywhere leavened with socialism. The advanced men among them seem
to have ceased to cry for a republic, and to place their hope now in
socialism. They have no desire to overturn a king who is as patriotic as
the best president, and they count the form of government of minor
importance as compared with the reconstitution of property. Bakunin
thought Italy the most revolutionary country of Europe except Spain,
because of its exceptionally numerous body of enthusiastic young men
without career or prospects; and certainly revolutionary elements abound
in the peninsula, but, as M. de Laveleye shrewdly remarks, a revolution
is perhaps next to impossible for want of a revolutionary metropolis.
"The malaria," he says, "which makes Rome uninhabitable for part of the
year will long preserve her from the danger of becoming the seat of a
new commune."

In Spain, as in Italy, socialism made its first appearance in 1868
through the agency of the International, and found an immediate and warm
response among the people. In 1873 the International had an extensive
Spanish organization with 300,000 members and 674 branches planted over
the whole length and breadth of the country, from industrial centres
like Barcelona to remote rural districts like the island of Majorca. M.
de Laveleye was present at several sittings of these socialist clubs
when he visited Spain in 1869, and he says: "They were usually held in
churches erected for worship. From the pulpit the orators attacked all
that had previously been exalted there--God, religion, the priests, the
rich. The speeches were white hot, but the audience remained calm. Many
women were seated on the ground, working, nursing their babes, and
listening attentively as to a sermon. It was the very image of '93." He
adds that their journals wrote with unparalleled violence, especially
against religion and the Church.

On the division of the International in 1872 the Spanish members sided
with Bakunin, supporting the anarchist view of the government of the
future. This was natural for Spaniards, among whom their own central
government had been long thoroughly detested, and their own communal
organization regarded with general satisfaction. The Spanish people,
even the humblest of them, are imbued beyond others with those
sentiments of personal dignity and mutual equality which are at the
bottom of democratic aspirations; and in their local communes, where
every inhabitant who can read and write has a voice in public council,
they have for ages been accustomed to manage their own affairs with
harmony and advantage. The revolutionary tradition of Spain has
accordingly always favoured communal autonomy, and the Federal rather
than the Central Republic. Castelar declares the Federal Republic to be
the most perfect form of State, though he thinks it for the present
impracticable; and the revolution of 1873, in which the International
played an active part, was excited for the purpose of establishing it.
The Federal Republicans are not all socialists. Many of them are for
making the agricultural labourers peasant proprietors, and even for
dividing the communal property among them; but in a country like Spain,
where communal property exists already to a large extent, the idea of
making all other property communal property lies ever at hand as a ready
resource of reformers. Nor, again, are all Spanish socialists
federalists. There is a Social Democratic Labour party in Spain which
broke off from the anarchists in 1882, and published a programme more on
Marxist lines, demanding (1) the acquisition of political power; (2) the
transformation of all private and corporate into the common property of
the nation; and (3) the reorganization of society on the basis of
industrial associations. This body is not very numerous, but at one of
its recent congresses it had delegates from 152 different branches, and
it has for the last four years had a party organ, _El Socialista_, in

The bulk of Spanish socialism still belongs, however, to the anarchist
wing. Little has been heard of the anarchists in Spain since the
revolution of 1873 and the fall of the International. They have usually
been blamed for the attempts on the life of the king in 1878, but they
have certainly never resorted to those promiscuous outrages which have
formed so much of the recent policy of the anarchists of other
countries; and except for participation in a few demonstrations of the
unemployed, they have maintained a surprisingly quiet and unobtrusive
existence. In 1881 they reconstituted themselves as the Spanish
Federation of the International Working Men's Association, which is said
by the author of "Socialismus und Anarchismus, 1883-86," apparently on
their own authority, to have 70,000 members in all Spain, who are
distributed in 800 branches, and hold regular district and national
congresses, but always under cover of secrecy. They have two journals in
Madrid, and others in the larger towns elsewhere. They are sorely
divided into parties and schools on very petty points, and fierce strife
rages between the tweedledums and tweedledees. One party has broken away
altogether and established a society of its own, under the name of the
Autonomists. The anarchists are in close alliance with an agrarian
organization called the Rural Labourers' Union, which has agitated since
1879 for the abolition of _latifundia_ in Andalusia, but they always
disclaim all connection with the more notorious Andalusian society, the
Black Hand, which committed so many outrages in 1881 and 1882, and is
often identified with the anarchists. The Black Hand is a separate
organization from the anarchists, and has, it is said, 40,000 members,
mostly peasants, in Andalusia and the neighbouring provinces; but their
principles are undoubtedly socialistic. Their views are confined to the
subject of land; but they declare that land, like all other property,
has been made by labour, that it therefore cannot in right belong to the
idle and rich class who at present own it, and that any means may be
legitimately employed to deprive this class of usurpers of their
possessions--the sword, fire, slander, perjury.

In Spain, unlike most other countries, the artisans of the towns show
less inclination to socialistic views than the rural labourers. They
have an active and even powerful labour movement of their own, carried
on through an extensive organization of trade unions which has risen up
rapidly within the last few years, especially in Catalonia, and they put
their whole trust in combination, co-operation, and peaceful agitation
for gradual reform under the present order of things, and will have
nothing to say to socialism or anarchism; so much so, that they
manifested the greatest reluctance to join in the eight hour
demonstrations of May-day, 1890, because they did not wish to be
confounded or in any way identified with the more extreme faction who
were getting those demonstrations up; and they actually held a rival
demonstration of their own on Sunday, the 4th of May, "in favour," as
they stated in the public announcement of it, "of State socialism and of
State legislation, both domestic and international, to improve the
general condition of the working classes without any revolutionary or
sudden change that could alarm the Sovereign and the governing classes."

Spain made a beginning in factory legislation in 1873, when an act was
passed restricting the labour of children and young people; but the act
remained dead-letter till 1884, when the renewal of agitation on the
social question by the various parties led the cabinet to issue an order
to have this law carried into effect, and a little later in the same
year to appoint a royal commission to institute a thorough inquiry into
the whole circumstances of the labouring classes, and the conditions of
their improvement. This commission, which received nothing but abuse
from the anarchists, who said the labour problem must be settled from
below and not from above, was welcomed very heartily by the trade
unionists, and with favour rather than otherwise even by the Social
Democrats; but it has as yet had little or no result, and men who know
the country express their opinion very freely that it will never lead to
anything but an act or two that will remain dead-letter like their
predecessors. The suffrage is high, only one person in seventeen having
a vote; and working-class legislation will continue lukewarm till the
working class acquires more real political power. A leading Spanish
statesman said lately: "The day for social questions has not yet come in
Spain, and we can afford to look on and see other countries make
experiments which may be of use some day when our politicians and
thinkers can find time to devote attention to these twentieth century

There seems much truth in the view that socialism, spite of the alarm
its spread caused to the Spanish Government in 1872, is really a disease
of a more advanced stage of industrial development than yet exists in
Spain, and therefore unlikely to grow immediately into anything very
formidable there. The country has few large industrial centres.
Two-thirds of the people are still engaged in agriculture; and though it
is among the agricultural classes socialism has broken out, the outbreak
has been local, and confined to provinces where the conditions of
agricultural labour are decidedly bad. But these conditions vary much
from province to province. In the southern provinces the cereal plains
and also the lower pasturages are generally possessed by large
proprietors, who work them by farmers on the _metayer_ principle, with
the help of bands of migratory labourers in harvest time; but in the
mountainous parts of these provinces the estates belong for the most
part to the communes. They are usually large, and as every member of the
commune has an undivided right of using them, he is able to obtain from
them the main part of his living without rent. Many of the inhabitants
of such districts engage in the carrying trade, to which they conjoin a
little cattle-dealing as opportunities offer; and as they are sober and
industrious, they are usually comparatively well off. In the northern
provinces the situation is in some respects better. Land is much
subdivided, and though the condition of the labouring class is not as a
rule unembarrassed, that result is due more to their own improvidence
and indolence than to anything else. A man of frugal and industrious
habits can always rise without much difficulty from the position of day
labourer to that of _metayer_ tenant, and from tenancy to
proprietorship, and some of the small proprietors are able to amass a
considerable competency. Besides, even the improvident are saved from
the worst by the communal organization. They have always a right of
pasturage on the commons, and a right to wood for fire, house and
furniture, and they get their children's education and medical
attendance in sickness gratuitously on condition of giving six days'
labour at the roads of the commune. The most active and saving part of
the population, north and south, is the class of migratory workmen, who
stay at home only during seed-time and harvest, and go for the rest of
the year to work in Castile, Andalusia, or Portugal, as masons or
carpenters, or waiters, and always come back with a store of money.
Sometimes they remain abroad for a year or two, and sometimes they go to
Cuba or Mexico for twenty years, and return to settle on a property of
their own in their native village. This class forms the _personnel_ of
the small property in Spain, and they give by their presence a healthy
stimulus to the neighbourhoods they reside in. The small property is in
Spain, as elsewhere, too often turned from a blessing to a curse by its
subdivision, on the death of the proprietor, among the members of his
family, who in Spain are usually numerous, though it is interesting to
learn that in some of the Pyrenean valleys it has been preserved for
five hundred years by the habit of integral transmission to the eldest
child--son or daughter--coupled with the habit of voluntary celibacy on
the part of many of the other children. The economic situation of Spain,
then, is not free from defects; but there always exists a wide margin of
hope in a country where, as Frere said, "God Almighty has so much of the
land in His own holding," and its economic situation would not of itself
be likely to precipitate social revolution.

From Spain, socialism passed into Portugal; but from the first it has
worked very quietly there. Its adherents formed themselves into an
association in 1872, and held congresses, published newspapers, started
candidates, and actively promoted their views in every legitimate way.
Their programme was anarchism, like that of their Spanish allies; but,
unlike anarchists elsewhere, they repudiated all resort to violence,
for, as M. de Laveleye says, they are naturally "less violent than the
Spaniards, the economic situation of the country is better, and liberty
being very great, prevents the explosion of popular fury, which is worse
when exasperated by repression." Portugal is an agricultural country in
a good climate, where the people have few wants, and find it easy to
satisfy them fairly well. In the absence of any manner of acute
discontent, socialism could never have been much better than an abstract
speculation; and Portuguese socialism, if we may trust the complaints
made by the party elsewhere, seems now to have lost even the savour it
had. In March, 1888, one of the socialist newspapers of London reported
that the Portuguese working men's movement had, in the course of the
preceding ten years, given up the straightforward socialist character it
once had; that its leaders had entered into compromises with other
political parties, and threw themselves too much into experiments in
co-operation; that the party press was very lukewarm in its socialism,
and inclined more to mere Radicalism; and that one or two attempts that
had been made to start more extreme journals had completely failed; but
it announced with satisfaction, that at last, in January, 1888, a
frankly anarchist paper was published at Oporto--_A Revoluzao Social_.
About the same time the editor of a journal which had made some hostile
remarks on anarchism was shot, and anarchists were blamed and arrested
for the deed. There was a Socialist Congress at Lisbon in 1882, composed
of twelve delegates representing eight societies, all in Lisbon or

While the socialist cause has been thus rather retreating in the south
of Europe, it has been making some advances in the north. Of the three
Scandinavian countries, Denmark alone gave any early response to the
socialist agitation; but there are now socialist organizations in Sweden
and Norway, and the movement in Denmark has assumed considerable
dimensions. Attempts were made to introduce socialism into Norway as far
back as 1873 by Danish emissaries, and the International also founded a
small society of thirty-seven members in Christiania; but the society
seems to have died, and nothing more was heard of socialism there till
the commotion in favour of a Republic in 1883. A Social Democratic Club
was then established in Christiania, and a Social Democratic Congress
was held at Arendal in 1887; but even yet Norwegian social democracy is
of so mild a character that it would be counted conservatism by Social
Democrats elsewhere, for this Congress issued a programme for a new
labour party without a word of socialism in it, and merely asking for a
normal working day, for factory legislation and reform of taxation. In
Sweden there is more appearance of agitation, because there is one very
active agitator in the country, Palm, a tailor, who keeps socialism _en
evidence_ by making stump speeches, or getting up street processions
with the usual red flags, and sometimes--such was the easy indifference
of the Government to his work at first--with a military band in full
uniform at the head of them. The Swedish socialists had four newspapers
in 1888, but three of them were confiscated by the Government in
December of that year, and their editors arrested for offences against
religion and the throne. In May, 1890, they held their first Congress at
Stockholm, when delegates appeared from twenty-nine unions; but the
movement is very unimportant in Sweden and Norway, and the chief
conditions of success seem wanting to it in those countries. There is no
class of labourers there without property; no town residuum, and no
rural cottagers. There being few great manufacturers in the kingdom,
only fifteen per cent. of the people altogether live in towns. The rest
are spread sparsely over the rural districts on farms belonging to
themselves, and in the absence of roads are obliged to make at home many
of the ordinary articles of consumption. What with the produce of their
small properties and their own general handiness, they are unusually
independent and comfortable. M. de Laveleye considers them the happiest
people in Europe.

The circumstances of Denmark are different. The operatives of the town
are badly off. Mr. Strachey tells us in his report to the Foreign Office
in 1870 that every fourth inhabitant of Copenhagen was in receipt of
parochial relief in 1867, and he says that while the Danish operatives
are sober, and well educated, they fail in industry and thrift. "No fact
in my report," he states, "is more certain than that the Dane has yet to
learn the meaning of the word _work_; of entireness and thoroughness he
has seldom any adequate notion. This is why the Swedish artisan can so
often take the bread from his mouth." In the rural districts, too, the
economic situation, though in some respects highly favourable, is
attended by a shadow. The land is, indeed, widely diffused. There are in
all 280,000 families in the rural districts of Denmark, and of these
170,000 occupy independent freeholds, 30,000 farm hired land, and only
26,000 are agricultural labourers pure and simple. Seven-eighths of the
whole country is held by peasant proprietors, and as a rule no class in
Europe has improved more during the last half century than the Danish
peasant or Bonde. Mr. Strachey says: "The Danish landlord was till
recent times the scourge of the peasantry. Under his paternal care the
Danish Bonde was a mere hewer of wood and drawer of water; his lot was
no better than that of the most miserable ryot of Bengal. The Bonde is
now the freest, the most politically wise, the best educated of European
yeomen." But there is another side to the picture. In Denmark, as in
other places where the small property abounds, the property is often too
small for the proprietor's necessities, and there thus arises a kind of
proprietor-proletariat, unwilling to part with their land and unable to
extract a living out of it. This class, along with the rural labourers
who have no property, constitute a sort of fourth estate in the country,
and there as elsewhere their condition is preparing a serious social
question for the future. Then, among the influences favourable to the
acceptance of socialism in Denmark, must be counted the fact that one of
the two great political parties of the country is democratic. Curiously
enough that party consists of the peasantry, and the Conservatives of
Denmark are the commercial classes of the towns, with the artisans in
their wake, their Conservatism, however, being substantially identical
with the Liberalism of the same classes in other countries. This
democratic party seeks to make everything in the State conduce to the
interests of the peasantry, and keeps alive in the country the idea that
the State exists by the will of the people, and for their good alone.

The International was introduced into this exclusively Protestant
country by two militant Roman Catholics--Pio, a retired military
officer, who came to Denmark as religious tutor to a baroness who had
joined the Church of Rome, and Geleff, who wrote for an Ultramontane
journal. They pursued their new mission with great zeal and success.
They opened branches of the association in most of the towns, started a
party newspaper, held open-air meetings, were sent to imprisonment for
sedition in 1873, and on their release in 1877 absconded to America with
the whole of the party funds, and disputed bitterly there over the
spoil. While they were in prison, the International was suppressed in
Denmark; but the members merely reconstituted the organization under the
name of the Socialist Labour Party, and the place of leader was taken
for a time by an authoress, Jacquette Lilyenkrantz, for, as in other
countries, women are in Denmark among the most active propagandists of
socialism. They kept up communications with the socialist leaders in
Germany, and the meeting of the German Socialist Congress at Copenhagen
in 1883 gave the movement a new impetus. They were able to return two
deputies, Holm and Hördun, to the Volkething in 1884, and they took
part, 80,000 strong, in the Copenhagen procession of 1886, in
commemoration of the fundamental law of the State. Their chief party
organ, the _Social Demokraten_, has a circulation of 26,000 daily, one
of the largest newspaper circulations in Denmark; and there are other
four socialist journals in the kingdom.

They belong to the moderate wing of social democracy, being opposed to
revolution and terrorism, and placing their confidence in constitutional
agitation. Their programme is substantially that of Gotha--the right of
the labourers to the full product of labour, State management of all
industry, free education, universal suffrage, normal working day,
abolition of class inequalities, single chamber in legislature, free
justice, no standing army, State provision for sick and aged, religions
to be a private affair. They turn their propaganda with most hope to the
land proletariat; and a recent writer, P. Schmidt, in an interesting
paper in the _Arbeiterfreund_ for 1889, says they are succeeding in
their mission, and that socialism is spreading more and more every day
among the rural labourers. At their last Congress, held at Copenhagen,
in June, 1890, and attended by seventy-one delegates from fifty-four
different branches, their attention was chiefly occupied with questions
about the land; provision of more land for the people by compulsory
acquisition of ecclesiastical property and uncultivated ground; State
advances of capital to agricultural labourers; agricultural schools;
better housing for farm servants, etc. In 1887 they held a socialist
exhibition in Copenhagen--an international exhibition of socialist
pamphlets, newspapers, books, magazines, and pictures; and in 1890 they
returned two members to the Landthing--the first time they secured
representatives in the Upper Chamber.

Belgium has many of the conditions of soil most favourable for
socialism--a dense population, large towns, an advanced productive
system, and an industrial class at once very numerous, very ill paid,
and very open, through their education, to new social ideas. For a time,
accordingly, socialism spread remarkably in that country. The
International had eight federations of branches in 1869, with 60,000
members and several newspapers. In the dispute between Marx and Bakunin,
the Belgian Internationalists seem to have sided as a body with Bakunin;
but they presently fell out among themselves, and, in spite of many
repeated efforts at reconciliation, they have never since succeeded in
composing their differences. The German socialist leaders tried to
reorganize them in 1879 at a special Congress at Brussels, under the
name of the Socialist Labour Party of Belgium, and with the Gotha
programme; but they were rent again in 1881 by a division which had then
entered into German socialism itself. The majority of the party adhered
to Liebknecht and Bebel; but an active minority, composed chiefly of
Walloons, followed the anarchist views of Most and Hasselman, withdrew
from the party, and founded another called the Revolutionary Union. The
anarchists have one journal--_Ni Dieu, Ni Maître_--violent, as the name
indicates, but obscure and unimportant; but they believe most in the
less intellectual propaganda of deed, and make themselves conspicuous
from time to time by dynamite explosions and street fights with the
police or the military, or their own socialist rivals. The Belgian
socialists, on the other hand, look more to constitutional and
parliamentary action, and usually work with the Liberals at the
elections; but the Belgian voting qualification is high, and they have
never succeeded in returning a candidate of their own. In 1887 their
candidate for Brussels got 1,000 votes, while his successful rival had
3,000. They took an active part in the Republican agitation which was
raised by the School Law in 1884. They have capable leaders, and they
publish two journals, which, however, for want of funds, appear only at
distant and uncertain intervals. They have lately begun to hold many
open-air meetings, which the authorities had long forbidden, and they
held an International Socialist Exhibition at Ghent in 1887 like that
held in the same year at Copenhagen.

On the whole socialism, after twenty years' work, is making no way in
Belgium, notwithstanding the favourable character of the soil, because
the labour movement is choosing other directions and forms of
organization. Trade unions and co-operative societies have been
multiplying much during these twenty years, and in 1885 a strong Belgian
Labour Party was formed, with 120 branches and 100,000 members, which
aims at promoting the practical wellbeing of the working class by
remedial legislation--by in some cases vicious State-socialistic
legislation, it may be--but has no word of the right to the full product
of labour, of the nationalization of all industry, or of the social
revolution. One of the items of the programme is worded "collective
property"; but whether it contemplates the universal State-property of
collectivism or the corporate property of co-operation does not appear.
The other items are universal suffrage, direct legislation by the people
(presumably the _referendum_), free undenominational education,
abolition of standing army, abolition of budget of worship, normal work
day, normal wages, regulation of work of women and children, factory
inspection, employers' liability, workmen's chambers, courts of
conciliation, repeal of taxes on means of subsistence, increased income
tax, international labour legislation. M. de Laveleye attributes the ill
success of socialism in Belgium, and no doubt rightly, to the influence
of discussion and free institutions. Government has left it to stand or
fall on its own merits before public opinion. The socialists enjoy full
liberty of the platform and press; they can hold meetings and congresses
and form clubs in any town they please, and the result is that though
the movement, like all new movements, made a certain impression and
advance for a time at first, it got checked under the influence of
discussion and the application of solid practical judgment. Then, though
the Belgian Legislature has not yet done what it can and ought for
ameliorating the condition of the labourers, philanthropy has been very
active and useful in a number of ways in that kingdom. The Catholic
Church has always intervened to keep up a high ideal of employers'
responsibility--the old ideal of a patriarchal care; and there is a
strong organization in Belgium of Catholic Working Men's Clubs, which
were formed into one body in 1867, which were united with the Catholic
Working Men's Clubs of Germany in 1869, and with those of France in
1870, and which now constitute with these the International Catholic
Working Men's Association.

It ought perhaps to be mentioned that there is an old but small party of
Land Nationalizers in Belgium, the Colinsian Socialists, whose
principles have been warmly endorsed by Mr. Ruskin as "forming the most
complete system of social and political reform yet put forward." They
want the State to own all the soil, and let it out by auction; but they
are opposed to nationalizing any of the other instruments of production.

In Holland, wealth is very unequally divided, wages are low, and
taxation, being largely indirect, falls heavily on the working class;
but the people are phlegmatic, domestic, religious, and contrive on
small means to maintain a general appearance of comfort and decency.
Above all, they enjoy free institutions; and, under freedom, socialism
has run the same course in Holland as in Belgium. The International made
rapid advances in 1869, founded branches in all the towns, and carried
on, after the Paris Commune, so active and successful an agitation that
the _bourgeoisie_ took alarm, and Government imposed some restrictions
on the disaffected press. But a general rise in wages happened about the
time, a strong co-operative movement was promoted under the lead of the
orthodox divines, a lively polemic against socialism broke out among the
working men themselves, and all interest in the social revolution seemed
to have died away, when, in 1878, it was revived again by D. Niewenhuis,
a retired Protestant minister, a man of capacity and zeal, who has been
unwearied in his advocacy of the cause ever since. He started in that
year a journal, _Recht Voor Allen_, which is still, I believe, the only
socialist organ in Holland, and appears now three times a week; and he
founded the Social Democratic Union in 1884, which is strongest in the
Hague and Amsterdam, but has branches in most of the other towns, and a
membership by no means inconsiderable, though much below the old numbers
of the Dutch International. After being imprisoned in 1887 for political
reasons, Niewenhuis was returned to the Legislature in 1888--the first
socialist who has sat there. The Dutch Socialists, to increase their
numbers, enrol a class of "secret" members, timid spirits who will only
come to them "by night, for fear of the Jews." There is also a handful
of anarchists in Holland, who have a newspaper in Amsterdam, and are
said to live harmoniously with the socialists, and, according to the
reports of the American consuls, nobody in the country thinks any harm
of either.

Switzerland has swarmed for a century with conspirators of all hues and
nations; but the Swiss--thanks again to free institutions--have been
steel against revolution. The "Young Germanys" and "Young Italys" whom
she sheltered in the past sought only, it is true, to win for their own
countries the political freedom which Switzerland already enjoyed; but
the socialist and anarchist refugees of the last twenty years have had
social principles to preach which were as new and as good for the Swiss
as for their own countrymen; and, speaking as they did the languages of
the Confederation, they have never ceased making active efforts for the
conversion of the Swiss. The old Jurassian Federation of the
International, still continues to exist in French-speaking Switzerland,
and to bear witness for the extremest kind of anarchist communism--no
force or authority whatever, and a collective consumption of products as
well as a collective production; but this body is not increasing, and
though Guesde, the French socialist, made a lecturing tour through that
division of Switzerland in 1885, he had quite as little success for his
branch of the revolutionary cause. There are numbers of Social
Democratic Clubs in the German-speaking cantons, but they consist mainly
of German refugees, and contain few native Swiss members. After the
Anti-Socialist Laws of 1879, the German socialists settled largely in
Switzerland. They transferred to Zurich their party organ, the _Social
Democrat_, and along with it, to use their own phrase, the entire
Olympus of the party, the body of writers and managers who moved the
shuttle of its operations. These propagandists naturally did not neglect
the country of their adoption, but used every opportunity to forward
their agitation by addresses and even by extended missionary journeys,
and a separate Swiss Social Democratic party was actually founded, with
a separate organ, the _Arbeiterstimme_; but it collapsed in 1884 from
internal dissensions. No attempt was made to revive it till 1888, when
the action of the Federal Council in May against the foreign socialists
resident in the Confederation led to the organization of a Swiss
socialist party in October. The Federal Government had already, in 1884
and 1885, taken measures against the political refugees, especially the
anarchists, who were thought to have abused the hospitality they
received by planning and preparing in Switzerland the series of crimes
which shocked all Europe in 1884, and even by trying to explode the
Federal Palace at Berne itself. The Government instituted an inquiry,
and finding the country absolutely riddled with anarchist clubs,
determined to keep the eye of the police on them, and in the meantime
expelled thirty or forty of their leading members from Switzerland
altogether. These were almost without exception either Austrians or
Germans, and included Neve, now a leading anarchist in London. The
Russian anarchists were apparently not thought so dangerous, their great
occupation being to invent new ways and means of smuggling newspapers
into Russia; but they disliked the police supervision to which they were
subjected, and very generally quitted Switzerland of their own accord
for London or Paris. The anarchist organ, the _Revolté_, was removed at
the same time to Paris, but its place in Geneva was taken by a new
paper--_L'Egalitaire_. In 1888 the police were ordered to report all
socialist meetings held in the country, and all arrivals or departures
of "foreigners whose means of subsistence was unknown, and whose
presence might, for other reasons, become dangerous to the safety of the
country"; and as this further turn of the screw was believed to be made
on the instigation of Germany, it provoked considerable opposition, one
result of which was the formation of the new Swiss socialist party.

This party, however, is not an affair of any magnitude, and does not
appear very likely to become so; for the working men of Switzerland have
the public power in their own hands already, and they have their own
organizations besides to look after their interests; and while they are
by no means averse to the use of the powers of the State, they are
disposed to move with inquiry and caution, and to see every step of
their way before running into speculative schemes of foreign origin.
Their political position satisfies them, because they know they are too
strong for Government to neglect their wishes, because some labour laws
have already been passed for their protection, and because the
authorities always show themselves ready to entertain any new proposals
for the same object, as, for example, they did in May, 1890, by
summoning an International Congress at Berne to discuss the length of
the working day and other conditions of labour.

Their economic position, moreover, is also comparatively satisfactory
for various reasons, among which Mr. Bonar, in his report to the Foreign
Office in 1870, gives a chief place to the general working of democratic
institutions and the prevalence of benevolent and charitable
associations. "In enumerating," he says, "the favourable circumstances
in which the Swiss working man is placed, prominence must be given to
the immense extension of the principle of democracy, which, whatever,
may be its defects and dangers from a political point of view when
pushed to extremes, serves in Switzerland in its economical effects to
advance the cause of the operative by removing the barriers dividing
class from class, and to establish among all grades the bonds of mutual
sympathy and goodwill, further strengthened by a widely-spread network
of associations organized with the object of securing the common
interests and welfare of the people." Masters and workmen are socially
more equal than in most European countries; they sit side by side at the
board of the Communal Council, they belong to the same choral societies,
they refresh themselves at the same _cafés_. In most cantons, too,
operatives are either owners of, or hold from the communes, small
pieces of land which they cultivate in their leisure hours, and which
thus serve them when work gets slack or fails altogether. The favourable
rural economy of the country is well known; its peasant proprietors
rival those of France. The Swiss societies of beneficence are
remarkable, and almost suggest the hope that the voluntary socialism of
a more enlarged and widely organized system of charity may be found to
furnish a substantial solution of the social question. Every canton of
Switzerland has its society of public utility, whose aims take an
extensive range; it gives the start to projects of improvement of every
description, infant schools, schools of design, savings banks, schemes
for the poor, the sick, the dumb, singing classes, halls for Sunday
recreation, popular lectures, workmen's houses, protection of animals,
even industrial undertakings which promise to be ultimately beneficial,
though they may not pay at first. The society of Basle has 900 members
and a capital of £6,000, and the Swiss Society of Public Utility is an
organization for the whole Republic, which holds an annual congress at
Zurich, and general meetings in the different cantons by turns. These
meetings pass off with every mark of enthusiasm, and gather together men
of all religious and political opinions in a common concern for the
progress and prosperity of the masses. One of the institutions which
these societies have largely promoted is what they call a hall of
industry, or a bazaar, where loans may be received by workmen on the
security of their wages, or of goods they may deposit. A labourer who
has made any article which he cannot get immediately sold, may deposit
it at one of these bazaars, and obtain an advance equal to a fixed
proportion of its value, and if the article is sold at the bazaar, the
proceeds are accounted for to the depositor, less the sum advanced and a
small charge for expenses. These institutions, Mr. Bonar says, have had
excellent effects, though he admits that the facilities of borrowing
have led the working men in some places into debt; but they are at any
rate a vast improvement on the pawnbroking system in vogue elsewhere.
The condition of Switzerland shows us clearly enough that democracy
under a _régime_ of freedom lends no ear to socialism, but sets its face
in entirely different directions.

The United States of America have done more for experimental socialism
than any other country. Owenites, Fourierists, Icarians have all
established communities there, but these communities have failed long
ago, except one of the Icarian, and the only other socialist experiments
now existing in America are seventy or eighty religious communities,
Shakers and Rappists, whose success has been due to their religious
discipline and their celibacy, and whose members amount to no more than
5,000 souls all told. There is indeed a Russian Commune in California,
but it remains a solitary Russian Commune still, the "new formula of
civilization," as Russian reformers used to call it, showing no sign of
further adoption. Nor has the new or political socialism found any
better success in the States. There are various indigenous forms of
it--such as the agrarian socialism of Mr. Henry George, and the
nationalism of Mr. E. Bellamy--but in point of following they are of
little importance, and the socialism of the American socialist and
revolutionary parties is a mere German import, with as yet a purely
German consumption. It has been pushed vigorously in the American market
for twenty years, but taken singularly little hold of the American
taste. There is one revolutionary socialist body composed chiefly of
English-speaking members, the International Workmen's Association, which
was founded in 1881 in one of the western states; but Mr. Ely says its
membership would be generously estimated at 15,000, and it considers the
great work of the present should be popular education, so as to prepare
the people for the revolution when it comes.

The Boston Anarchists, perhaps, ought not, strictly speaking, to be
included in any account of socialism, for, unlike most contemporary
anarchists, they are not socialist, but extremely individualist; but
historically, it is worth noting, Boston Anarchism is the doctrine of a
disenchanted socialist, Josiah Warren, who had lived with Robert Owen at
New Harmony, and came to the conclusion that that experiment failed
because the individual had been too much sunk in the community, and no
room was left for the play of individual interests, individual rights,
and individual responsibilities. From Owen's communism, Warren ran to
the opposite extreme, and thought it impossible to individualize things
too much. He would abolish the State, and have the work of police and
defence done by private enterprise, like any other service. He issued
some books, tried to carry out his views by practical experiment, and,
though they failed, he has still a small band of believing disciples at
Boston, who publish a newspaper called _Liberty_, but have no
organization and no importance.

Henry George and his followers, too, perhaps ought not in strictness to
be classified among socialists. He would certainly repudiate such a
classification himself, and the United Labour Party, which he founded in
1886 to promote his views by political action, expelled the socialists
from membership in 1887. His actual practical proposal is nothing more
than a narrow and illusory plan of taxation; but he puts it forward so
expressly as the keystone of a new social system, as the remedy
prescribed by economic science itself for the complete regeneration of
society and the simultaneous removal of all existing social evils, that
he is not improperly placed among Utopian socialists. Does he not
promise us a new heaven and a new earth? And if he believes the State
can call the new heaven and the new earth into being by a mere turn in
the incidence of taxation, while most other contemporary socialists
think the State must first pull down all that now is and reconstruct the
whole on a new plan, is he, on account of this greater credulity of his,
to be considered a more, and not rather a less, sober and rational
speculator than they? He wants to abolish landlordism, while they want
to abolish landlordism and all other capitalism besides; and his views
may fairly be called partial or agrarian socialism. The United Labour
Party was founded mainly to promote Mr. George's panacea of the single
tax on such land values as arise from the growth of society apart from
individual exertion; but it includes other articles in its
programme--the municipalization of the supply of water, light, and heat;
the nationalization of all money, note issue, post, telegraphs,
railways, and savings banks; reduction of the hours of labour,
prohibition of child labour, suppression of the competition of prison
labour with honest labour; sanitary inspection of houses, factories, and
mines; simplification of legal procedure; secret ballot; payment of
election expenses. The United Labour Party is not strong. When Mr.
George stood for the Mayoralty of New York, he had 68,000 votes to his
opponent's 90,000; but he had on that occasion the assistance of the
Socialistic Labour Party, who are said by Mr. Ely to number about 25,000
in New York, and who certainly constituted a very considerable element
in the United Labour Party, for they were expelled at the Party
Convention only by a vote of 94 to 54. On the other hand, Mr. Ely's
estimate of the strength of the socialists is possibly too high, for
they ran a candidate for the Mayoralty of New York themselves in 1888, a
leading man of the party, one Jones, and he only secured 2,000 votes.
However that may be, the United Labour Party was certainly much weakened
by the loss of the socialists, and they were disabled entirely in the
following year by a division on the question of Free Trade and the
secession of Father McGlynn and the Protectionist members.

Nationalism is the name of a new movement, the fruit of the remarkable
and very popular novel of Mr. Edward Bellamy, "Looking Backward," which
may be said to be the latest description of Utopia as it now stands with
all the most modern improvements. Mr. Bellamy would have all industry
organized and conducted by the nation on the basis of a common
obligation of work and a general guarantee of livelihood, all men to get
exactly the same wages, and to do exactly the same quantity of work, due
allowance being made for differences in severity, and the State to
enlarge indefinitely its free public provision of the means of common
enjoyment and culture. Mr. Bellamy's charming pictures of the new
country naturally engendered a general wish to be there, and many little
societies have been established to hasten the hour; but as the movement
has not been more than a year in being, little account can yet be given
of its success. The Nationalists have quite recently issued an organ,
_The New Nation_, which announces its programme to be (1) the
nationalization of post, telegraphs, telephone, railways and coal mines;
(2) municipalization of gas and water supply, and the like; and (3) the
equalization of educational opportunities as between rich and poor, and
the promotion of all reforms tending towards humaner, more fraternal,
and more equal conditions. Nationalism out of Utopia, therefore, means
merely a little State-socialism.

The strongest socialist organizations in the United States are the
Socialistic Labour Party, corresponding to the Social Democrats of
Europe, and the International Working People's Association,
corresponding to the anarchists; but both are composed almost
exclusively of Germans. There are more Germans in the North American
Republic than in any State of Germany except Prussia; and as many of
them have fled from their own country for political reasons--to escape
the conscription, or to escape prosecution for sedition--they bear no
goodwill to the old system of government, and harbour revolutionary
ideas almost from the nature of things. A socialist propaganda began
among them so far back as 1848, when Weitling, of whom more will be said
presently, published a socialist newspaper; and a Socialist Gymnastic
Union was established in New York in 1850, which succeeded in forming a
kind of federal alliance, apparently for socialistic purposes, with a
number of other local German gymnastic societies throughout the States;
but though these societies still exist, they seem to have dropped their
socialism. It was taken up again, however, in 1869, by the
International, which transferred its General Council to New York in
1872, held congresses from time to time in the country, and eventually,
at the Newark Convention of 1877, adopted the name of the Socialistic
Labour Party, with a programme formed after the Gotha lines. The numbers
of the party were strengthened in the years immediately following by the
arrival of German refugees, expelled from their own land by the
Socialist Laws; but the new members brought with them elements of
dissension which speedily came to a head after the arrival of the
incendiary spirit, John Most, in 1882, and led, in 1883, to the entire
separation of the Anarchists from the Social Democrats. The latter held
a separate Congress at Baltimore in the latter year, attended by 16
delegates, representing 23 branches and 10,000 members, and it reported
that altogether 38 branches adhered to them. The anarchists held a
Congress at Pittsburg, and formed themselves into the International
Working People's Association, with the following principles:--

"What we would achieve is therefore plainly and simply--

"1st. Destruction of the existing class rule by all means; _i.e._, by
energetic, relentless, revolutionary, and international action.

"2nd. Establishment of a free society based upon co-operative
organization of production.

"3rd. Free exchange of equivalent products by and between the productive
organizations without commerce and profit-mongery.

"4th. Organization of education on a secular, scientific, and equal
basis for both sexes.

"5th. Equal rights for all without distinction of sex or race.

"6th. Regulation of all public affairs by free contracts between the
autonomous (independent) communes and associations resting on a
federalistic basis." (Ely's "Labour Movement in America," p. 231.)

They differ from the Socialistic Labour Party, as this programme shows,
in their exclusive devotion to revolution, and their opposition to all
central government.

The Socialistic Labour Party has several newspapers, the principal being
the _Sozialist_ and the _Neu Yorker Volkszeitung_ of New York, and the
_Tageblatt_ of Philadelphia; and the anarchists have more, the best
known being Most's notorious _Freiheit_. Mr. Ely mentions sixteen
socialist newspapers and ten sympathizing with socialism, and says that
the majority of these support the anarchist side. The anarchists,
moreover, have one journal in English--the _Alarm_; the Socialistic
Labour Party started one in 1883, but it died. With that exception the
press of both parties is entirely German, and neither party seems to
have done almost anything in the way of an English propaganda from the
platform. Dr. and Mrs. Aveling state that before they made their
lecturing tour on the subject through the States in 1886, the American
public had never heard socialism preached to them in their own tongue;
yet books like Mr. Gronlund's "Co-operative Commonwealth," giving a very
effective exposition of socialism, had already appeared from the
American press. Dr. and Mrs. Aveling say, moreover, they met with more
hostility to their mission from the anarchists than from any other
source in America. The American people, while firmly stamping out the
dynamite policy of the anarchists, have naturally nothing to say
against an academic propaganda of any system of doctrine.

The trend of the labour movement in America seems away from socialism.
That movement is in many respects more powerful there than in any
European country. There are some five hundred labour newspapers in the
United States, and an immense number of trade organizations of all
kinds. Political power, moreover, both in the States and in the Union,
is in the hands of the working class; and that class has now very nearly
the same grievances there as it has in Europe, and the same aspirations
after a better order of things. But their tendencies are not nearer
socialism, but further from it. They simply cannot understand people who
tell them they have no power to work out their own salvation under the
system that is, and that nothing can be done, as Marx assures them,
until every capital in Europe is ready for a simultaneous revolution
with New York and Chicago. The trade unions accordingly ignore
socialism. The Knights of Labour expressly repudiate it, and in the
course of a very long programme they hardly make a demand which has a
taint even of State-socialism. This "Noble Order of the Knights of
Labour" is a general association of working men to promote the cause of
labour, partly by their own efforts and partly through the Government.
By their own efforts they are to promote co-operation till, if possible,
it supersedes the present wages system entirely; equality of wages for
men and women for equal work; a general eight hours day through a
general strike; and a system of arbitration in trade quarrels. From the
Union Legislature they want merely a few general reforms, none bearing
directly on the situation of labour, except the abolition of foreign
contract labour. The others are, reform of the currency, nationalization
of telegraphs and railways, and the institution of banking facilities of
various kinds in connection with the Post Office. From the State
Legislatures they ask the reservation of public lands to actual
settlers, the simplification of the administration of justice, factory
legislation, graduated income tax, and the following provisions for
labour: weekly payment of wages in money, mechanic's lien on the product
of his labour for his wages, compulsory arbitration in trade disputes,
prohibition of labour of children under fifteen. In 1886 they were
702,884 strong, but they have declined sorely since then. Their great
weapon was to be an extension of strikes and boycotting beyond what was
possible to single trades; but it was found that this policy was
double-edged, and caused more hurt to some sections of the working class
than any good it could do to others; and people lost faith in the
principle of such huge miscellaneous organizations. Dr. Aveling contends
that the Knights of Labour, in spite of Mr. Powderly's disclaimer, are
really, though it may be unconsciously, socialists, because they want to
supersede the wages system, if they can, by establishing co-operative
institutions without State aid; and this, he holds, "is pure and
unadulterated socialism." Indeed! then where is the man who is not a
pure and unadulterated socialist? and what need for any mission to the
States to preach the socialist message to the Americans for the first
time in their own tongue?

England was the country last reached by the present wave of
revolutionary socialism, although the system has been largely conceived
upon a study of English circumstances, and is claimed to be peculiarly
adapted to them. England is alternately the hope and the despair of
Continental socialists. Every requisite of revolution is there, and yet
the people will not rise. The yeomanry are gone. The land has come into
the hands of a few. Industry is carried on by great centralized capital.
The large system of production has almost finished its work. The mass of
the people is a proletariat; they are thronged in large towns; every
tenth person is a pauper; and the great mansions of the rich cast an
evil shadow into the crowded dens of the wretched. "The English," says
Eugène Dupont, a leading member of the old International, "possess all
the materials necessary for the social revolution; but they lack the
generalizing spirit and the revolutionary passion." Any proletariat
movement in which the English proletariat takes no part, said Karl Marx,
is "no better than a storm in a glass of water"; yet, though Marx
himself resided in England for most of his life, no organized attempt
was made to gain over the English proletariat to socialism till
1883--the year he died. There was before that, indeed, a small English
section in a foreign socialist club in Soho; and, after the fall of the
Paris Commune, hopes were for a time entertained of starting a serious
socialist movement in our larger towns; but these hopes proved so
delusive that Karl Marx said more than once to Mr. Hyndman, as we are
told by the latter, that he despaired "of any great movement in England,
unless in response to some violent impetus from without." But in 1883 a
socialist movement seemed to break out spontaneously in England, the air
hummed for a season with a multifarious social agitation, and we soon
had a fairly complete equipment of socialist organizations--social
democratic, anarchist, dilettante--which have ever since kept up a busy
movement with newspapers, lectures, debates, speeches, and
demonstrations in the streets.

In 1883 the Democratic Federation, which had been established two years
before to promote measures of Radical reform, including, among other
things, the nationalization of the land, adopted the socialistic
principles of Karl Marx, and changed its name to the Social Democratic
Federation. Its programme is long, and includes, besides the
nationalization of land and all means of production, direct legislation
by the people, direct election of all functionaries by adult suffrage,
gratuitous justice, gratuitous, compulsory, and equal education,
abolition of standing armies, Home Rule for Ireland, an eight hours day,
State erection of workmen's dwellings, to be let at bare cost,
progressive income tax, proportional representation, abolition of House
of Lords, separation of Church and State, etc. Its principal founders
were Mr. William Morris, an artist, a great poet, and a manufacturer
exceptionally excellent in his arrangements with his workpeople; Mr. H.
M. Hyndman, a journalist of standing and ability; Mr. J. Stuart Glennie,
and Mr. Belfort Bax, both authors of repute; Dr. Aveling, a popular
lecturer on science, and son-in-law of Karl Marx; Miss Helen Taylor,
step-daughter of John Stuart Mill; and the Rev. Stewart Headlam. In
January, 1884, they started a weekly newspaper, _Justice_, and a monthly
magazine, _To-Day_, both of which still appear, and began the active
work of lecturing and founding branches. But before the year was out,
the old enemy of socialists, the spirit of division, entered among them,
and Mr. Morris, with Dr. Aveling and Mr. Bax, seceded and set up an
independent organization called the Socialist League, with a separate
weekly organ, _The Commonweal_. The difference seems to have arisen out
of the common socialist trouble about the propriety of mixing in current
politics. The same disruptive tendency has persisted in the two parts,
and in the end of 1890, Mr. William Morris seceded from the Socialist
League with his local following at Hammersmith.

Neither of these revolutionary bodies has a complete organization like
those of continental countries. They have never held a Congress, either
national or provincial. They consist of a central committee in London,
and detached local groups in the provinces, and their membership is not
accurately known, but it is not extensive. It is in both cases
declining, and it has always been variable, young men joining for a year
or two, and then leaving. Their chief success has been among the miners
of the North of England, and they have returned three members to the
School Board of Newcastle. There is one socialist member in Parliament,
Mr. Cunningham Graham, but he has not been returned on socialist
principles or by a socialist vote; and hitherto the party has failed to
obtain any serious support at the elections. At the election of 1885,
Mr. John Burns, socialist candidate for Nottingham, had only 598 votes
out of a total poll of 11,064, and Mr. J. Williams, the socialist
candidate for Hampstead, had only 27 out of a total of 4,722. Mr. Burns,
however, has since been returned to the London County Council, and will
not improbably succeed in being returned to Parliament at next election.
He is a working engineer, but is much the strongest leader English
socialism has produced, an orator of great power, an excellent
organizer, and the head and representative of a new labour movement
which is likely to play a considerable part in the immediate future, and
which is certainly fermented with a good measure of socialistic leaven.
The New Unionism, as this movement is sometimes called, represents
mainly the opinion of the new trade unions of unskilled labour--dockers
and others--which have sprung into existence recently, and it was strong
enough at the Trade Union Congress in 1890 to carry the day against the
old unionism of the skilled trades by a considerable majority in favour
of the compulsory and universal eight hours day. But, as Mr. T. Burt,
M.P., the miners' parliamentary representative, said in his speech to
the Eighty Club two months afterwards, the New Unionism is, after all,
only the young and inexperienced unionism, and must needs run now
through the same kind of errors which the older trade unions have gone
through before, but will, like the older unions, learn, by discussion
and experiment, to keep within the lines of practicable and beneficial
action. However that may be, for the moment, at any rate, the fortunes
of English socialism seem to lie with Mr. John Burns and his labour
movement, and not with the two socialist organizations which appear to
have already reached their height, and to be now on the decline.

A well-informed German writer lately warned us that anarchism had
brought its headquarters to London, that it was coming into relations
with the English population through its clubs and newspapers, and he
ventured to prophesy that we should certainly have soon an anarchist
fire to extinguish on our own hearth much more serious than Germany or
Austria has had to encounter. So far, however, there is little to
support such a prophecy. There are four small anarchist clubs in
London--three of them German clubs, which live at strife with one
another, and the fourth a Russian or Polish club, whose members have few
or no dealings with the Germans. The German anarchists publish two
weekly newspapers in German, which it is their great business to smuggle
into the Fatherland, and the Russian or Polish anarchists publish one in
Yedish--the German-Hebrew _patois_ of the Polish Jews--which is printed
for the entertainment of the Polish tailors of the East End. Some of the
principal anarchist leaders, it is true, live amongst us--for example,
Prince Krapotkin and Victor Dave--and under their influence a group of
English anarchists has grown up during the last few years; but this
group has already, after the manner of modern revolutionists, split on a
point of doctrine into two opposite camps, which,--if we may judge from
their respective organs, _The Anarchist_ and _Freedom_--expend a
considerable share of their destructive energies upon one another. The
English anarchists have no permanent organization of any kind, and the
one group are for socialist anarchism, and the other for individualist
anarchism. On the whole the conversion of the English by the anarchist
refugees is not an idea worthy of serious consideration; a better and
more likely result would be that they would themselves, like Alexander
Herzen, the leading anarchist of the past generation, be converted in
England to more rational ideas of politics. Our safety lies, however,
not so much in the practical character of our people, as in their habits
of free and open discussion. What is called practicality is no safeguard
against delusive ideas outside one's own immediate field of activity,
and there is perhaps no country, except the still more practical country
of America, where more favour is shown than here to fanaticism of any
kind, if there seems to be heart in it. Besides, when we hear it said,
We have indeed an enormous proletariat, but they are too practical to
think of insurrection, we ought to reflect that, to the miserable, the
practical test of a scheme will not be, Shall we be any the better for
the change? but Shall we be any the worse for it? But under free
institutions grievances always come to be ventilated; ventilation leads
to more or less remedial measures, and discontent is removed altogether,
or, at any rate, appeased for the time; and although under free
institutions ill-considered schemes which inflate that discontent with
delusive hopes may raise for a season a boom of earnest discussion, the
discussion eventually kills them. So it seems to be with the fortunes of
revolutionary socialism in England to-day. It has been much discussed
for six years, but the height of the tide has been reached already, and
the movement is now apparently on the ebb.

Besides these manifestations of revolutionary socialism, we have various
societies representing an amateur and appreciative interest in
socialism. There is the Christian Socialist Society, a small body of
less than 150 adherents, including many clergymen and other members of
the learned professions. They must not be confounded with the Christian
Socialists of forty years ago, Maurice, Kingsley, and their allies, for
the survivors of this earlier movement, such as Judge Thomas Hughes, Mr.
Vansittart Neale, and Mr. J. M. Ludlow, do not belong to the present
Christian Socialist Society, and would repudiate its principles. They
wanted to promote co-operation without State interference, and they take
a leading part in the co-operative movement still; but the Christian
Socialist Society of the present day is all for State interference, and
the articles of its organ, the _Christian Socialist_, strongly support
the doctrines of Karl Marx, and declare that "the command, 'Thou shalt
not steal,' if impartially applied, must absolutely prohibit the
capitalist, as such, from deriving any revenue whatever from the
labourer's toil." But with all their will to believe with the Marxists,
the latter are not sure of them, and the socialist organs, _Justice_ and
_To-Day_, twit them one day for not being Christians, and the next for
not being socialists. They are not men of the same mark as the earlier
body of English Christian socialists, Canon Shuttleworth and Mr. Stewart
Headlam being the two best known of them. The Guild of St. Matthew,
which is composed to some extent of the same _personnel_ as the
Christian Socialist Society, has published a compendium of Christian
socialism, and strives, among other branches of its activity, to
cultivate good relations between socialists and the Church.

The Fabian Society, again, is a debating club of mixed socialism. It
contains socialists of all feathers--revolutionary socialists and
philosophical socialists, Christian socialists and un-Christian
socialists--who meet together under its auspices and exchange their
views, without having any recognised end beyond the discussion. They
intervened lately, however, in the eight hours day controversy, and
drafted a bill for a compulsory measure on the subject which attracted
some public attention. Among the principal members are Mr. Sidney Webb,
a well-known writer and lecturer on economic subjects, Mr. G. Bernard
Shaw, journalist, Mrs. Besant, and Mr. W. Clarke. They have published a
volume of Fabian Essays, which has had a large sale.

No account of English socialism would be complete that made no mention
of the writings of Mr. Ruskin, which have probably done more than any
other single influence to imbue English minds with sentiments and
principles of a socialistic character. But they have produced nothing in
the nature of a school or party more than perhaps some detached local
group; such, for example, as the Sheffield Socialists, a small body
formed under Ruskinian inspiration, and the leadership of Mr. E.

The outburst of socialist agitation in England in 1883 and 1884 was
immediately preceded by a revival of popular interest in an old and
favourite subject of English speculation, the nationalization of the
land. Mr. Henry George had published his "Progress and Poverty" in 1881,
and in the same year the Democratic Federation was established in London
with land nationalization for one of its principles, and Mr. A. R.
Wallace, the eminent naturalist, founded the Land Nationalization
Society. In 1882, Mr. Wallace contributed still further to awaken
discussion of the question by publishing his work on "Land
Nationalization," and the discussion was spread everywhere in 1883 by
the appearance of a sixpenny edition of Mr. George's remarkable work.
Land nationalization in the hands of Mr. Wallace has little in common
with any form of contemporary socialism. He does not contemplate any
interference with the present system of agricultural production; that is
still to be conducted by capitalists and hired labourers, as it is now.
He merely proposes to abolish what is called landlordism by the
compulsory conversion of the present tenant farmers into a body of
yeomanry or occupying owners, and his scheme differs from the more
ordinary proposals for the creation of peasant proprietors merely in two
points: 1st--which is a very good proposal--that he would leave part of
the price of the property to be paid in the form of a permanent annual
quitrent to the State; and 2nd--which is a more doubtful proposal--that
this part should represent, as nearly as it is possible now to calculate
it, the original value of the soil apart from improvements of any
kind--or, in other words, the unearned part of the present value of the
property--and that it should be subject to periodical revision, with a
view to recovering from the holder any further unearned increments of
value that may accrue to his holding from time to time. Mr. Wallace,
like Mr. George, has very utopian expectations from his scheme; but he
would honestly buy up the rights of the existing landlords, while Mr.
George would merely confiscate them by exceptional taxation. This
difference broke up the Land Nationalization Society in 1883, and the
partisans of Mr. George's view seceded and formed themselves into the
English Land Restoration League, which has established branches in most
of the larger towns, and has now probably a more numerous membership
than the original society. It is especially strong in Scotland, and ran
three candidates for Glasgow at the last general election; but the three
only got 2,222 votes between them, out of a total of 23,800 polled in
the three divisions they contested. The ideas of the League have a
certain vogue among the Highland crofters, where they blend very readily
with the universal peasant doctrines that the earth is the Lord's, and
that all other lords should be abolished.

In Scotland there are a good many branches of the two regular socialist
organizations. The Scottish Emancipation League joined the Social
Democratic Federation, and the Scottish Land and Labour League joined
the Socialist League; but it is remarkable that there is no socialism in
Ireland, except in a small branch of the Socialist League in Dublin,
called the Dublin Socialist Club, although it seems a miracle for a
country seething for centuries with political and economic discontent to
escape such a visitation. Probably, as with the Poles, the minds of the
discontented are already too much pre-occupied with other political and
social solutions. The land nationalization views of Mr. George are, of
course, spread widely through the influence of Mr. Michael Davitt in the
agrarian movement of Ireland.

But while the recent wave of socialism has passed over discontented
Ireland, and left it, like Gideon's fleece, quite dry, much more
susceptibility has been shown by those parts of the Empire where the lot
of labour is, perhaps in all the world, the happiest--the Australian
colonies. Here, too, the susceptibility has been created to some extent
by the land questions of the country. Mr. George, in his recent
lecturing tour through these colonies, met with a warm welcome in almost
all the towns he visited, made many converts to his ideas, and gave rise
to a considerable agitation. In South Australia three of his disciples
were returned to the Legislature in 1887, and their views are supported
by several newspapers in Adelaide. In a new colony the argument for
keeping the land in the hands of the State has in some respects more
point and force than in an old. Mr. George's disciples in Sydney publish
a paper called the _Land Nationalizer_, and his views are advocated by
one of the most influential papers in the colony, the _Bulletin_ of
Sydney. In New Zealand a bill has actually been brought in for the
purpose of nationalizing the land. But apart from Mr. George altogether,
there is a flourishing Australian Socialist League in Sydney,
established in 1887, and with a membership of 7,000 in 1888. It has a
journal called the _Radical_, and keeps up a busy agitation with
lectures and discussions. As a method of temporary policy it promotes
associations of labourers for the purpose of undertaking Government and
municipal contracts. In Melbourne, again, people are more advanced. They
have no socialist organization, but they have an anarchist club,
established in 1886 for the purpose of aiding social reform on the lines
of liberty, equality, and fraternity. It circulates the works of
Proudhon, Tucker, the Boston anarchist, Bakunin, and Mr. Auberon
Herbert; and it publishes a newspaper called _Honesty_, which appeared
at first once a month, and latterly once in two months. The ideas of the
party are not easy to ascertain exactly from the pages of their journal.
The State is, of course, the enemy, and land monopoly is one of the
State's worst creations; but some of the writers advocate land
nationalization, while others propound a scheme of what they call
"constructive anarchy," under which every man is to own the land he
occupies. They have started a new form of co-operative store, a kind of
mutual production society, whose members bind themselves to produce for
one another, and exchange their products for the bare cost of
production; and they have started a co-operative home, in which the
members get better and cheaper accommodation through their combination.
Melbourne anarchism, however, has no harm in it: it is a mere spark of
eccentric speculation. The working class of Melbourne is probably the
most powerful and the best organized working class in the world. In
their Trades Hall they have had for thirty years a workmen's chamber of
their own creating like what German socialists are vainly asking from
the State, and much more effective, because more independent. They have
secured the eight hours day to fifty-two different trades without
receiving a finger's help from the law, and without losing a shilling of
wages. They have, moreover, the voting power in their own hands. In
fact, they are, as nearly as any working class can be, in the precise
condition socialists require for revolutionary action. They are entirely
dependent on a handful of capitalists for their employment, and they
have the whole power of the State substantially under their own control;
so that they might, if they chose, march to the Parliament House with a
red flag, and instal the socialist State to-morrow. But they do not
choose. They propose no change in the present industrial system, and
make surprisingly few demands of any sort upon the State. The world goes
very well with them as it is, and they will not risk the comforts they
really enjoy to try any sweeping and problematical solutions. While the
socialist movement, in the countries where it is most advanced and
powerful, seems settling into a practical labour movement, the labour
movement, in the countries where it is most advanced and powerful, is
steering furthest and clearest from socialism.



German socialism is--it is hardly too much to say--the creation of
Ferdinand Lassalle. Of course there were socialists in Germany before
Lassalle. There are socialists everywhere. A certain rudimentary
socialism is always in latent circulation in what may be called the
"natural heart" of society. The secret clubs of China--"the fraternal
leagues of heaven and earth"--who argue that the world is iniquitously
arranged, that the rich are too rich, and the poor too poor, and that
the wealth of the great has all accrued from the sweat of the masses,
only give a formal expression to ideas that are probably never far from
any one of us who have to work hard and earn little, and they merely
formulate them less systematically than Marx and his disciples do in
their theories of the exploitation of labour by capital. Socialism is
thus so much in the common air we all breathe, that there is force in
the view that the thing to account for is not so much the presence of
socialism, at any time, as its absence. Accordingly it had frequently
appeared in Germany under various forms before Lassalle. Fichte--to go
no farther back--had taught it from the standpoint of the speculative
philosopher and philanthropist. Schleiermacher, it may be remembered,
was brought up in a religious community that practised it. Weitling,
with some allies, preached it in a pithless and hazy way as a gospel to
the poor, and, finding little encouragement, went to America, to work it
out experimentally there. The Young Hegelians made it part of their
philosophic creed. The Silesian weavers, superseded by machinery, and
perishing for want of work, raised it as a wild inarticulate cry for
bread, and dignified it with the sanction of tears and blood. And Karl
Marx and Friedrich Engels, in 1848, summoned the proletariat of the
whole world to make it the aim and instrument of a universal revolution.
But it was Lassalle who first really brought it from the clouds and made
it a living historical force in the common politics of the day. The late
eminent Professor Lorenz von Stein, of Vienna, said, in 1842, in his
acute and thoughtful work on French Communism, that Germany, unlike
France, and particularly England, had nothing to fear from socialism,
because Germany had no proletariat to speak of. Yet, in twenty years, we
find Germany become suddenly the theatre of the most important and
formidable embodiment of socialism that has anywhere appeared. Important
and formidable, for two reasons: it founds its doctrines, as socialism
has never done before, on a thoroughly scientific investigation of the
facts, and criticism of the principles, of the present industrial
_régime_, and it seeks to carry them out by means of a political
organization, growing singularly in strength, and based on the class
interests of the great majority of the people.

There were, of course, predisposing conditions for this outburst. A
German proletariat had come into being since Stein wrote, and though
still much smaller, in the aggregate, than the English, it was perhaps
really at this time the more plethoric and distressed of the two. For
the condition of the English working-classes had been greatly relieved
by emigration, by factory legislation, by trades unions, whereas in some
of these directions nothing at all, and in others only the faintest
beginnings, had as yet been effected in Germany. Then, the stir of big
political movement and anticipation was on men's minds. The future of
the German nation, its unity, its freedom, its development, were
practical questions of the hour. The nationality principle is
essentially democratic, and the aspirations for German unity carried
with them in every one of the States strong movements for the extension
of popular freedom and power. This long spasmodic battle for liberty in
Germany, which began with the century, and remains still unsettled, this
long series of revolts and concessions and overridings, and hopes
flattered and again deferred, this long uncertain babble of
_Gross-Deutsch_ and _Klein-Deutsch_, and Centralist and Federalist and
Particularist, of "Gotha ideas" and "new eras" and "blood and iron,"
had prepared the public ear for bold political solutions, and has
entered from the first as an active and not unimportant factor in the
socialist agitation. Then again, the general political habits and
training of the people must be taken into account. Socialistic ideas
would find a readier vogue in Germany than in this country, because the
people are less rigidly practical, because they have been less used to
the sifting exercise of free discussion, and because they have always
seen the State doing a great deal for them which they could do better
for themselves, and are consequently apt to visit the State with blame
and claims for which it ought not to be made responsible. Then the
decline of religious belief in Germany, which the Church herself did
much to produce when she was rationalistic, without being able to undo
it since she has become orthodox, must certainly have impaired the
patience with which the poor endured the miseries of their lot, when
they still entertained the hope of exchanging it in a few short years
for a happier and an everlasting one hereafter.

All these circumstances undoubtedly favoured the success of the
socialistic agitation at the period it started; but, when everything is
said, it is still doubtful whether German socialism would ever have come
into being but for Lassalle. Its fermenting principle has been less want
than positive ideas. This is shown by the fact that it was at first
received among the German working classes with an apathy that almost
disheartened Lassalle; and that it is now zealously propagated by them
as a cause, as an evangel, even after they have emigrated to America,
where their circumstances are comparatively comfortable. The ideas it
contains Lassalle found for the most part ready to his hand. The germs
of them may be discovered in the writings of Proudhon, in the projects
of Louis Blanc. Some of them he acknowledges he owes to Rodbertus,
others to Karl Marx, but it was in passing through his mind they first
acquired the stamp and ring that made them current coin. Contentions
about the priority of publishing this bit or that bit of an idea,
especially if the idea be false, need not concern us; and indeed
Lassalle makes no claim to originality in the economical field. He was
not so much an inventive as a critical thinker, and a critical thinker
of almost the first rank, with a dialectic power, and a clear, vivid
exposition that have seldom been excelled. Any originality that is
claimed for him lies in the region of interpretation of previous
thought, and that in the departments of metaphysics and jurisprudence,
not of economics.

The peculiarity of his mind was that it hungered with almost equal
intensity for profound study and for exciting action, and that he had
the gifts as well as the impulses for both. As he said of Heraclitus the
Dark, whom he spent some of his best years in expounding, "there was
storm in his nature." Heine, who knew and loved him well as a young man
in Paris, and indeed found his society so delightful during his last
years of haggard suffering, that he said, "No one has ever done so much
for me, and when I receive letters from you, courage rises in me, and I
feel better,"--Heine characterizes him very truly in a letter to
Varnhagen von Ense. He says he was struck with astonishment at the
combination of qualities Lassalle displayed--the union of so much
intellectual power, deep learning, rich exposition on the one hand, with
so much energy of will and capacity for action on the other. With all
this admiration, however, he seems unable to regard him without
misgiving, for his audacious confidence, checked by no thought of
renunciation or tremor of modesty, amazed him as much as his ability. In
this respect he says Lassalle is a genuine son of the modern time, to
which Varnhagen and himself had acted in a way as the midwives, but on
which they could only look like the hen that hatched duck's eggs and
shuddered to see how her brood took to the water and swam about
delighted. Heine here puts his finger on the secret of his young
friend's failure. Lassalle would have been a great man if he had more of
the ordinary restraining perceptions, but he had neither fear nor awe,
nor even--in spite of his vein of satire--a wholesome sense of the
ridiculous,--in this last respect resembling, if we believe Carlyle, all
Jews. Chivalrous, susceptible, with a genuine feeling for the poor man's
case, and a genuine enthusiasm for social reform, a warm friend, a
vindictive enemy, full of ambition both of the nobler and the more
vulgar type, beset with an importunate vanity and given to primitive
lusts; generous qualities and churlish throve and strove in him side by
side, and governed or misgoverned a will to which opposition was almost
a native and necessary element, and which yet--or perhaps rather,
therefore--brooked no check. "Ferdinand Lassalle, thinker and fighter,"
is the simple epitaph Professor Boeckh put on his tomb. Thinking and
fighting were the craving of his nature; thinking and fighting were the
warp and woof of his actual career, mingled indeed with threads of more
spurious fibre. The philosophical thinker and the political agitator are
parts rarely combined in one person, but to these Lassalle added yet a
third, which seems to agree with neither. He was a fashionable dandy,
noted for his dress, for his dinners, and, it must be added, for his
addiction to pleasure--a man apparently with little of that solidarity
in his own being which he sought to introduce into society at large, and
yet his public career possesses an undoubted unity. It is a mistake to
represent him, as Mr. L. Montefiore has done, as a _savan_ who turned
politician as if by accident and against his will, for the stir of
politics was as essential to him as the absorption of study. It is a
greater mistake, though a more common one, to represent him as having
become a revolutionary agitator because no other political career was
open to him. He felt himself, it is said, like a Cæsar out of employ,
disqualified for all legitimate politics by his previous life, and he
determined, if he could not bend the gods, that he would move Acheron.
But so early as 1848, when yet but a lad of twenty-three, he was tried
for sedition, and he then declared boldly in his defence that he was a
socialist democrat, and that he was "revolutionary on principle." This
he remained throughout. He laughs at those who cannot hear the word
revolution without a shudder. "Revolution," he says, "means merely
transformation, and is accomplished when an entirely new principle
is--either with force or without it--put in the place of an existing
state of things. Reform, on the other hand, is when the principle of the
existing state of things is continued, and only developed to more
logical or just consequences. The means do not signify. A reform may be
carried out by bloodshed, and a revolution in the profoundest
tranquillity. The Peasants' War was an attempt to introduce reform by
arms, the invention of the spinning-jenny wrought a peaceful
revolution." In this sense he was "revolutionary on principle." His
thought was revolutionary, and it was the lessons he learnt as a
philosopher that he applied and pled for an agitator. His thinking and
his fighting belonged together like powder and shot. His Hegelianism,
which he adopted as a youth at college, is from first to last the
continuous source both of impetus and direction over his public career.
Young Germany was Hegelian and revolutionary at the time he went to the
University (1842), and with the impressionable Lassalle, then a youth of
seventeen, Hegelianism became a passion. He wrote articles on it in
University magazines, preached it right and left in the _cafés_ and
taverns, and resolved to make philosophy his profession and establish
himself as a _privat Docent_ at Berlin University. It was the first
sovereign intellectual influence he came under, and it ruled his spirit
to the end. In adopting it, his intellectual manhood may be said to have
opened with a revolution, for his family were strict Jews, and he was
brought up in their religion.

Lassalle was born in 1825 at Breslau, where his father was a wholesale
dealer. He was educated at the Universities of Breslau and Berlin, and
at the latter city saw, through the Mendelssohns, a good deal of the
best literary society there, and made the acquaintance, among others, of
Alexander von Humboldt, who used to call him a _Wunderkind_. On
finishing his curriculum, he went for a time to Paris, and formed there
a close friendship with H. Heine, who was an old acquaintance of his
family. He meant to qualify himself as _privat Docent_ when he returned,
but was diverted from his purpose by the task of redressing a woman's
wrongs, into which he flew with the romantic enterprise of a
knight-errant, and which he carried, through years of patient and
zealous labour, to a successful issue. The Countess Hatzfeldt had been
married when a girl of sixteen to a cousin of her own, one of the great
nobles of Germany; but the marriage turned out most unhappily after a
few years, and she was obliged, on account of the maltreatment she
suffered, to live apart from her husband. His persecution followed her
into her separation. He took child after child from her, and was now
seeking to take the last she had left, her youngest son. He allowed her
very scanty and irregular support, while he lavished his money on
mistresses, and was, at this very moment, settling on one of them an
annuity of £1,000. This state of things had continued for twenty years,
and the Countess's own relations had, for family reasons, always
declined to take up her case. Lassalle, who had made her acquaintance in
Berlin, was profoundly touched by her story, and felt that she was
suffering an intolerable wrong, which society permitted only because she
was a woman, and her husband a lord. Though not a lawyer, he resolved to
undertake her case, and after carrying the suit before thirty-six
different courts, during a period of eight years, he at length procured
for her a divorce in 1851, and a princely fortune in 1854, from which
she rewarded him with a considerable annuity for his exertions.
Lassalle's connection with this case not unnaturally gave rise to
sinister construction. It was supposed he must have been in love with
the Countess, and wanted to marry her, but this was disproved by the
event. Darker insinuations were made, but had there been truth in them,
it could not have escaped the spies the Count sent to watch him, and the
servants the Count bribed to inform on him. Chivalry, vanity, and
temerity at the season of life when all three qualities are at their
height, account sufficiently for his whole conduct, and I see no reason
to doubt the explanation he himself gives of it. "Her family," he
states, "were silent, but it is said when men keep silence the stones
will speak. When every human right is violated, when even the voice of
blood is mute, and helpless man is forsaken by his born protectors,
there then rises with right man's first and last relation--man. You have
all read with emotion the monstrous history of the unhappy Duchess of
Praslin. Who is there among you that would not have gone to the death to
defend her? Well, gentlemen, I said to myself, here is Praslin ten times
over. What is the sharp death-agony of an hour compared with the pangs
of death protracted over twenty years? What are the wounds a knife
inflicts compared with the slow murder dispensed with refined cruelty
throughout a being's whole existence? What are they compared with the
immense woe of this woman, every right of whose life has been trampled
under foot, day after day, for twenty years, and whom they have first
tried to cover with contempt, that they might then the more securely
overwhelm her with punishment?... The difficulties, the sacrifices, the
dangers did not deter me. I determined to meet false appearances with
the truth, to meet rank with right, to meet the power of money with the
power of mind. But if I had known what infamous calumnies I should have
to encounter, how people turned the purest motives into their
contraries, and what ready credence they gave to the most wretched
lies--well, I hope my purpose would not have been changed, but it would
have cost me a severe and bitter struggle." There seems almost something
unmodern in the whole circumstances of this case, both in the oppression
the victim endured, and in the manner of her rescue.

In the course of this suit occurred the robbery of Baroness von
Meyerdorff's _cassette_, on which so much has been said. The Baroness
was the person already mentioned on whom Count Hatzfeldt bestowed the
annuity of £1,000. The Countess, on hearing of this settlement, went
straight to her husband, accompanied by a clergyman, and insisted upon
him cancelling it, in justice to his youngest son, whom it would have
impoverished. The Count at first promised to do so, but after her
departure, refused, and the Baroness set out for Aix to get her bond
effectually secured. Lassalle suspected the object of her journey, and
said to the Countess, in the presence of two young friends, Could we not
obtain possession of this bond? No sooner said than done. The two young
men started for Cologne, and one of them stole the Baroness's
_cassette_, containing the veritable deed, in her hotel, and gave it to
the other. They and Lassalle were all three successively tried for their
part in this crime. Oppenheim, who actually stole the _cassette_, was
acquitted; Mendelssohn, who only received it, was sent to prison; and
Lassalle, who certainly suggested the deed, was found guilty by the
jury, but acquitted by the judges. Moral complicity of some sort was
clear, but it did not amount to a legal crime. Our interest with the
transaction is merely to discover the light it reflects on the character
of the man. It was a rash, foolish, and lawless freak, but of course the
ordinary motives of the robber were absent. The theft of the
_cassette_, however, was a transaction which his enemies never suffered
to be forgotten.

The theft of the _cassette_ occurred in 1846; Lassalle was tried for it
in 1848, and was no sooner released than he fell into the hands of
justice on a much more serious charge. The dissolution of the first
Prussian National Assembly in 1848, and the gift of a Constitution by
direct royal decree, had excited bitter disappointment and opposition
over the whole country. There was a general agitation for combining to
stop supplies by refusing to pay taxes, in order thus "to meet force
with force," and this agitation was particularly active in the Rhine
provinces, where democratic views had found much favour. Lassalle even
planned an insurrection, and urged the citizens of Dusseldorf to armed
resistance; but the Prussian Government promptly intervened, placed the
town under a state of siege, and threw Lassalle into jail. He was tried
in 1849 for treason, and acquitted by the jury, but was immediately
afterwards brought before a correctional tribunal on the minor charge of
resisting officers of the police, and sent to prison for six months. It
was in his speech at the former of these trials that he declared himself
a partisan of the Socialist Democratic Republic, and claimed for every
citizen the right and duty of active resistance to the State when
necessary. He had nothing but scorn to pour on the passive resistance
policy of the Parliament. "Passive resistance is a contradiction in
itself. It is like Lichtenberg's knife, without blade, and without
handle, or like the fleece which one must wash without wetting. It is
mere inward ill-will without the outward deed. The Crown confiscates the
people's freedom; and the Prussian National Assembly, for the people's
protection, declares ill-will; it would be unintelligible how the
commonest logic should have allowed a legislative assembly to cover
itself with such incomparable ridicule if it were not too intelligible."
These are bold words. He felt himself standing on a principle and
representing a cause; and so he went into prison, he tells us, with as
light a heart as he would have gone to a ball; and when he heard that
his sister had petitioned for his pardon, he wrote instantly and
publicly disclaimed her letter.

All these trials had brought Lassalle into considerable notoriety, not
unmingled with a due recognition of his undoubted _verve_, eloquence,
and brilliancy. One effect of them was that he was forbidden to come to
Berlin. This prohibition was founded, of course, on his seditious work
at Dusseldorf, but is believed to have been instigated and kept up by
the influence of the Hatzfeldt family. Lassalle felt it a sore
privation, for his ambitions and hopes all centred in Berlin. After
various ineffectual attempts to obtain permission, he arrived in the
capital one day in 1857 disguised as a waggoner, and through the
personal intercession of Alexander von Humboldt with the king, was at
length suffered to remain. His "Heraclitus" had just appeared, and at
once secured him a position in literary circles. One of his first
productions after his return to Berlin was a pamphlet on "The Italian
War and the Mission of Prussia; a Voice from the Democracy," which shows
that his political prosecutions had not soured him against Prussia. His
argument is that freedom and democracy must in Germany, as in Italy, be
first preceded by unity, and that the only power capable of giving unity
to Germany was Prussia, as to Italy, Piedmont. He had more of the
political mind than most revolutionaries and doctrinaires, and knew that
the better might be made the enemy of the good, and that ideals could
only be carried out gradually, and by temporary compromises. He was
monarchical for the present, therefore, no doubt because he thought the
monarchy to be for the time the best and shortest road to the democratic
republic. His friend Rodbertus said there was an esoteric and an
exoteric Lassalle. That may be said of all politicians. Compromise is of
the essence of their work.

During the next few years Lassalle's literary activity was considerable.
Besides a tragedy of no merit ("Franz von Sickingen," 1859) and various
pamphlets or lectures on Fichte, on Lessing, on the Constitution, on
Might and Right, he published in 1861 the most important work he has
left us, his "System of Acquired Rights," and in 1862 a satirical
commentary on Julian Schmidt's "History of German Literature," which
excited much attention and amusement at the time. His "System of
Acquired Rights" already contains the germs of his socialist views, and
his pamphlet on the Constitution, which appeared when the "new era"
ended and the era of Bismarck began, is written to disparage the
Constitutionalism of modern Liberals. A paper constitution was a thing
of no consequence; it was merely declarative, not creative; the thing of
real account was the distribution of power as it existed in actual fact.
The king and army were powers, the court and nobility were powers, the
populace was a power. Society was governed by the relative strength of
these powers, as it existed in reality and not by the paper constitution
that merely chronicled it. Right is regarded as merely declarative of
might. It is thus easy to see why he should have more sympathy with the
policy of Bismarck than with the Liberals; and later in the same year he
expounded his own political position very completely in a lecture he
delivered to a Working Men's Society in Berlin, on "The Connection
between the Present Epoch of History and the Idea of the Working Class."
This lecture, to which I shall again revert, was an epoch in his own
career. It led to a second Government prosecution, and a second
imprisonment for political reasons; and it and the prosecution together
led to his receiving an invitation to address a General Working Men's
Congress at Leipzig, in February, 1863, to which he responded by a
letter, sketching the political programme of the working class, which
was certainly the first step in the socialist movement.

Attention was already being engaged on the work of industrial
amelioration. The Progressist party, then including the present National
Liberals, had, under the lead of Schultze-Delitzsch, been promoting
trades unions and co-operation in an experimental way, and the working
classes themselves were beginning to think of taking more concerted
action for their own improvement. The Leipzig Congress was projected by
a circle of working men, who considered the Schultze-Delitzsch schemes
inadequate to meet the case. This was exactly Lassalle's view. He begins
his letter by telling the working men that if all they wanted was to
mitigate some of the positive evils of their lot, then the
Schultze-Delitzsch unions, savings banks, and sick funds were quite
sufficient, and there was no need of thinking of anything more. But if
their aim was to elevate the _normal_ condition of their class, then
more drastic remedies were requisite; and, in the first instance, a
political agitation was indispensable. The Leipzig working men had
discussed the question of their relation to politics at a previous
congress a few months before, and had been divided between abstaining
from politics altogether, and supporting the Progressist party. Lassalle
disapproved of both these courses. They could never achieve the
elevation they desired till they got universal suffrage, and they would
never get universal suffrage by backing the Progressists who were
opposed to it. He then explains to them how their normal condition is
permanently depressed at present by the essential laws of the existing
economic _régime_, especially by "the iron and cruel law of necessary
wages." The only real cure was co-operative production, the substitution
of associated labour for wage labour; for it was only so the operation
of this tyrannical law of wages could be escaped. Now co-operative
production, to be of any effective extent, must be introduced by State
help and on State credit. The State gave advances to start railways, to
develop agriculture, to promote manufactures, and nobody called it
socialism to do so. Why, then, should people cry socialism if the State
did a similar service to the great working class, who were, in fact, not
a class, but the State itself. 96½ per cent. of the population were
ground down by "the iron law," and could not possibly lift themselves
above it by their own power. They must ask the State to help them, for
they were themselves the State, and the help of the State was no more a
superseding of their own self-help than reaching a man a ladder
superseded his own climbing. State help was but self-help's means. Now
these State advances could not be expected till the working class
acquired political power by universal suffrage. Their first duty was
therefore to organize themselves and agitate for universal suffrage; for
universal suffrage was a question of the stomach.

The reception his letter met with at first was most discouraging. The
newspapers with one consent condemned it, except a Feudalist organ here
and there who saw in it an instrument for damaging the Liberals. What
seemed more ominous was the opposition of the working men themselves.
The Leipzig Committee to whom it was addressed did indeed approve of
it, and individual voices were raised in its favour elsewhere, but in
Berlin the working men's clubs rejected it with decided warmth, and all
over the country one working men's club after another declared against
it. Leipzig was the only place in which his words seemed to find any
echo, and he went there two months later and addressed a meeting at
which only 7 out of 1,300 voted against him. With this encouragement he
resolved to go forward, and founded, on the 23rd of May, 1863, the
General Working Men's Association for the promotion of universal
suffrage by peaceful agitation, after the model of the English Anti-Corn
Law League. He immediately threw himself with unsparing energy into the
development of this organization. He passed from place to place,
delivering speeches, establishing branches; he started newspapers, wrote
pamphlets, and even larger works, published tracts by Rodbertus, songs
by Herwegh, romances by Von Schweitzer. But it was uphill work. South
Germany was evidently dead to his ideas, and even among those who
followed him in the North there were but few who really understood his
doctrines or concurred in his methods. Some were for more "heroic"
procedure, for raising fighting corps to free Poland, to free
Schleswig-Holstein, to free oppressed nationalities anywhere. Many were
perfectly impracticable persons who knew neither why exactly they had
come together, nor where exactly they would like to go. There were
constant quarrels and rivalries and jealousies among them, and he is
said to have shown remarkable tact and patience, and a genuine governing
faculty in dealing with them. Lassalle's hope was to obtain a membership
of 100,000: with a smaller number nothing could be done, but with
100,000 the movement would be a power. In August, 1863, he had only
enrolled 1,000 after three months' energetic labour, which, he said,
"would have produced colossal results among a people like the French."
He was intensely disappointed, and asked, "When will this foolish people
cast aside their lethargy?" but meanwhile repelled the suggestion of the
secretary of the organization that it should be at once dissolved. In
August, 1864, another year's strenuous work had raised their numbers
only to 4,610, and Lassalle was completely disenchanted, and wrote
Countess Hatzfeldt from Switzerland, shortly before his death, that he
was continuing President of the Association much against his will, for
he was now tired of politics, which was mere child's play if one had not
power. He seems to have been convinced that the movement was a failure,
and would never become a force in the State. Yet he was wrong; his words
had really taken fire among the working classes, and kindled a movement
which, in its curious history, has shown the remarkable power of
spreading faster with the checks it encounters. It seems to have
profited, not merely from political measures of repression, but even
from the internal dissensions and divisions of its own adherents, and
some persons tell us that it was first stimulated into decided vigour by
the fatal event which might have been expected to crush it--the sudden
and tragical death of its chief.

In the end of July, 1864, Lassalle went to Switzerland ostensibly for
the Righi whey cure, but really to make the acquaintance of Herr von
Dönnigsen, Bavarian Envoy at Berne, whose daughter he had known in
Berlin, and wished to obtain in marriage. It is one of the fatalities
that entangled this man's life in strange contradictions, that exactly
he, a _persona ingratissima_ to Court circles, their very arch-enemy, as
they believed, should have become bound by deep mutual attachment with
the daughter of exactly a German diplomatist, the courtliest of the
courtly, a Conservative seven times refined. They certainly cherished
for one another a sincere, and latterly a passionate affection, and they
seem to have been well fitted for each other. Helena von Dönnigsen was a
bright, keen-witted, eccentric, adventurous young woman of twenty-five,
and so like Lassalle, even in appearance, that when she was acting a
man's part, years afterwards (in 1874), in some amateur performance in
the theatre of Breslau, Lassalle's native town, many of the audience
said, here was Lassalle again as he was when a boy. Learning from a
common friend in Berlin that Lassalle was at the Righi, she made a visit
to some friends in Berne, and soon after accompanied them on an
excursion to that "popular" mountain. She inquired for Lassalle at the
hotel, and he joined the party to the summit. She knew her parents would
be opposed to the match, but felt certain that her lover, with his
gifts and charms, would be able to win them over, and it was accordingly
agreed that when she returned to Geneva, Lassalle should go there too,
and press his suit in person. The parents, however, were inexorable, and
refused to see him; and the young lady in despair fled from her father's
house to her lover's lodging, and urged him to elope with her. Lassalle
calmly led her back to her father's roof, with a control which some
writers think quite inexplicable in him, but which was probably due to
his still believing that he would be able to talk the parents round if
he got the chance, and to his desire to try constitutional means before
resorting to revolutionary. Helena was locked in her room for days alone
with her excited brain and panting heart. For days, father, mother,
sister, brother, all came and laid before her what ruin she was bringing
on the family for a mere selfish whim of her own. If she married a man
so objectionable to people in power, her father would be obliged to
resign his post, her brother could never look for one, and her sister,
who had just been engaged to a Count, would, of course, have to give up
her engagement. She was in despair, but ultimately submitted passively
to write to Lassalle, desiring him to consider the matter ended, and
submitted equally passively (for she informs us herself) to accept the
hand of Herr von Racowitza, a young Wallachian Boyar, whom she had
indeed been previously engaged to, and sincerely liked and respected,
without in the eminent sense loving him. Lassalle had meanwhile wrought
himself into a fury of excitement. Enraged by her parents' opposition,
enraged still more by their refusal even to treat with him, enraged
above all by his belief that their daughter was being illegitimately
constrained, he wrote here, wrote there, tried to get the foreign
minister at Munich to interfere, to get Bishop Ketteler to use his
influence, promised even to turn Catholic to please the Dönnigsens,
forgetting that they were Protestants. All in vain. At last two of his
friends waited by appointment on Herr von Dönnigsen, and heard from
Helena's own lips that she was to be married to the Boyar, and wished
the subject no more mentioned. She now tells us that she did this in
sheer weariness of mind, and with a confused hope that somehow or other
the present storm would blow past, and she might have her Lassalle
after all. Lassalle, however, was overcome with chagrin; and though he
always held that a democrat should not fight duels, and had got
Robespierre's stick, which he usually carried, as a present for having
declined one, he now sent a challenge both to the father and the
bridegroom. The latter accepted. The duel was fought. Lassalle was
fatally wounded, and died two days after, on the 31st August, 1864, at
the age of 39. Helena married Herr von Racowitza shortly afterwards, but
he was already seized with consumption, and she says she found great
comfort, after the tumult and excitement of the Lassalle episode, in
nursing him during the few months he lived after their marriage.

The body was sent back to Germany, after funeral orations from
revolutionists of all countries and colours, and the Countess Hatzfeldt
had made arrangements for similar funeral celebrations at every halting
place along the route to Berlin, where she meant it to be buried, but at
Cologne it was intercepted by the police on behalf of the Lassalle
family, and carried quietly to Breslau, where, after life's fitful
fever, he was laid silently with his fathers in the Jewish
burying-ground of his native place. Fate, however, had not even yet done
with him. It followed him beyond the tomb to throw one more element of
the bizarre into his strangely compounded history. Lest the death of the
leader should prove fatal to the cause, the Committee of the General
Working Men's Association determined to turn it, if possible, into a
source of strength, as B. Becker, his successor in the president's
chair, informs us, "by carrying it into the domain of faith." Lassalle
was not dead, but only translated to a higher and surer leadership. A
Lassalle _cultus_ was instituted, and Becker says that many a German
working man believed that he died for them, and that he was yet to come
again to save them. This singular apotheosis, which is neither
creditable to the honesty of the leaders of the socialist movement, nor
to the intelligence of its rank and file, was kept up by periodical
celebrations among those of the German socialists who are generally
known as the orthodox Lassalleans, down, at least, to the time of the
Anti-Socialist Law of 1878.

Lassalle's doctrines are mainly contained in his lecture on "The
Present Age and the Idea of the Working Class," which he delivered in
1862, and published in 1863, under the title of the "Working Men's
Programme," and in his "Herr Bastiat-Schultze von Delitzsch, der
Oekonomische Julian; oder Capital und Arbeit," Berlin, 1864.

In the "Working Men's Programme," the question of the emancipation of
the working class is approached and contemplated from the standpoint of
the Hegelian philosophy of history. There are, it declares, three
successive stages of evolution in modern history. First, the period
before 1789, the feudal period, when all public power was vested in,
exercised by, and employed for the benefit of, the landed class. It was
a period of privileges and exemptions, which were enjoyed by the landed
interests exclusively, and there prevailed a strong social contempt for
all labour and employment not connected with the land. Second, the
period 1789-1848, the _bourgeois_ period, in which personal estate
received equal rights and recognition with real, but in which political
power was still based on property qualifications, and legislation was
governed by the interests of the _bourgeoisie_. Third, the period since
1848, the age of the working class, which is, however, only yet
struggling to the birth and to legal recognition. The characteristic of
this new period is, that it will for the first time give labour its
rights, and that it will be dominated by the ideas, aspirations, and
interests of the great labouring class. Their time has already come, and
the _bourgeois_ age is already past in fact, though it still lingers in
law. It is always so. The feudal period had in reality come to an end
before the Revolution. A revolution is always declarative and never
creative. It takes place first in the heart of society, and is only
sealed and ratified by the outbreak. "It is impossible to make a
revolution, it is possible only to give external legal sanction and
effect to a revolution already contained in the actual circumstances of
society.... To seek to make a revolution is the folly of immature men
who have no consideration for the laws of history; and for the same
reason it is immature and puerile to try to stem a revolution that has
already completed itself in the interior of society. If a revolution
exists in fact, it cannot possibly be prevented from ultimately existing
in law." It is idle, too, to reproach those who desire to effect this
transition with being revolutionary. They are merely midwives who assist
in bringing to the birth a future with which society is already
pregnant. Now, it is this midwife service that Lassalle believed the
working class at present required. He says of the fourth estate what
Sieyès said of the third, What is the fourth estate? Nothing? What ought
the fourth estate to be? Everything. And it ought to be so in law,
because it is so already in fact. The _bourgeoisie_, in overthrowing the
privileges of the feudal class, had almost immediately become a
privileged class itself. At so early a period of the revolution as the
3rd of September, 1791, a distinction was introduced between active and
passive citizens. The active citizen was the citizen who paid direct
taxes, and had therefore a right to vote; the passive citizen was he who
paid no direct taxes, and had no right to vote. The effect of this
distinction was to exclude the whole labouring classes from the
franchise; and under the July Monarchy, while the real nation consisted
of some thirty millions, the legal nation (_pays légal_), the people
legally possessed of political rights, amounted to no more than 200,000,
whom the Government found it only too easy to manage and corrupt. The
revolution of 1848 was simply a revolt against this injustice. It was a
revolt of the fourth estate against the privileges of the third, as the
first revolution was a revolt of the third against the privileges of the
other two. Nor were the privileges which the _bourgeoisie_ had contrived
to acquire confined to political rights alone; they included also fiscal
exemptions. According to the latest statistical returns, it appeared
that five-sixths of the revenue of Prussia came from indirect taxation,
and indirect taxes were always taken disproportionately out of the
pockets of the working class. A man might be twenty times richer than
another, but he did not therefore consume twenty times the amount of
bread, salt, or beer. Taxation ought to be in ratio of means, and
indirect taxation--so much favoured by the _bourgeoisie_--was simply an
expedient for saving the rich at the expense of the poor.

Now, the revolution of 1848 was a fight for the emancipation of the
working class from this unequal distribution of political rights and
burdens. The working class was really not a class at all, but was the
nation; and the aim of the State should be their amelioration. "What is
the State?" asks Lassalle. "You are the State," he replies. "You are
ninety-six per cent. of the population. All political power ought to be
of you, and through you, and for you; and your good and amelioration
ought to be the aim of the State. It ought to be so, because your good
is not a class interest, but is the national interest." The fourth
estate differs from the feudal interest, and differs from the
_bourgeoisie_, not merely in that it is not a privileged class, but in
that it cannot possibly become one. It cannot degenerate, as the
_bourgeoisie_ had done, into a privileged and exclusive caste; because,
consisting as it does of the great body of the people, its class
interest and the common good are identical, or at least harmonious.
"Your affair is the affair of mankind; your personal interest moves and
beats with the pulse of history, with the living principle of moral

Such then is the idea of the working class, which is, or is destined to
be, the ruling principle of society in the present era of the world. Its
supremacy will have important consequences, both ethical and political.
Ethically, the working class is less selfish than the classes above it,
simply because it has no exclusive privileges to maintain. The necessity
of maintaining privileges always develops an assertion of personal
interest in exact proportion to the amount of privilege to be defended,
and that is why the selfishness of a class constantly exceeds the
individual selfishness of the members that compose it. Now under the
happier _régime_ of the idea of labour, there would be no exclusive
interests or privileges, and therefore less selfishness. Adam would
delve and Eve would spin, and, consciously or unconsciously, each would
work more for the whole, and the whole would work more for each.
Politically, too, the change would be remarkable and beneficial. The
working class has a quite different idea of the State and its aim from
the _bourgeoisie_. The latter see no other use in the State but to
protect personal freedom and property. The State is a mere
night-watchman, and, if there were no thieves and robbers, would be a
superfluity; its occupation would be gone. Its whole duty is exhausted
when it guarantees to every individual the unimpeded exercise of his
activity as far as consistent with the like right of his neighbours.
Even from its own point of view this _bourgeois_ theory of the State
fails to effect its purpose. Instead of securing equality of freedom, it
only secures equality of right to freedom. If all men were equal in
fact, this might answer well enough, but since they are not, the result
is simply to place the weak at the mercy of the powerful. Now the
working class have an entirely different view of the State's mission
from this. They say the protection of an equality of right to freedom is
an insufficient aim for the State in a morally ordered community. It
ought to be supplemented by the securing of solidarity of interests and
community and reciprocity of development. History all along is an
incessant struggle with Nature, a victory over misery, ignorance,
poverty, powerlessness--_i.e._, over unfreedom, thraldom, restrictions
of all kinds. The perpetual conquest over these restrictions is the
development of freedom, is the growth of culture. Now this is never
effected by each man for himself. It is the function of the State to do
it. The State is the union of individuals into a moral whole which
multiplies a millionfold the aggregate of the powers of each. The end
and function of the State is not merely to guard freedom, but to develop
it; to put the individuals who compose it in a position to attain and
maintain such objects, such levels of existence, such stages of culture,
power, and freedom, as they would have been incapable of reaching by
their own individual efforts alone. The State is the great agency for
guiding and training the human race to positive and progressive
development; in other words, for bringing human destiny (_i.e._, the
culture of which man as man is susceptible) to real shape and form in
actual existence. Not freedom, but development is now the keynote. The
State must take a positive part, proportioned to its immense capacity,
in the great work which, as he has said, constitutes history, and must
forward man's progressive conquest over misery, ignorance, poverty, and
restrictions of every sort. This is the purpose, the essence, the moral
nature of the State, which she can never entirely abrogate, without
ceasing to be, and which she has indeed always been obliged, by the very
force of things, more or less to fulfil, often without her conscious
consent, and sometimes in spite of the opposition of her leaders. In a
word, the State must, by the union of all, help each to his full
development. This was the earnest and noble idea of 1848. It is the idea
of the new age, the age of labour, and it cannot fail to have a most
important and beneficial bearing on the course of politics and
legislation whenever it is permitted to have free operation in that
sphere by means of universal and direct suffrage.

This exposition of Lassalle's teaching in his "Working Men's Programme"
already furnishes us with the transition to his economic views. Every
age of the world, he held, has its own ruling idea. The idea of the
working class is the ruling idea of the new epoch we have now entered
on, and that idea implies that every man is entitled to a
_menschenwürdiges Dasein_, to an existence worthy of his moral destiny,
and that the State is bound to make this a governing consideration in
its legislative and executive work. Man's destiny is to progressive
civilization, and a condition of society which makes progressive
civilization the exclusive property of the few, and practically debars
the vast mass of the people from participation in it, stands in the
present age self-condemned. It no longer corresponds to its own idea.
Society has long since declared no man shall be enslaved; society has
more recently declared no man shall be ignorant; society now declares no
man shall be without property. He cannot be really free without property
any more than he can be really free without knowledge. He has been
released successively from a state of legal dependence and from a state
of intellectual dependence; he must now be released from a state of
economic dependence. This is his final emancipation, which is necessary
to enable him to reap any fruits from the other two, and it cannot take
place without a complete transformation of present industrial
arrangements. It is a common mistake, he said, to think that socialists
take their stand on equality. They really take their stand on freedom.
They argue that the positive side of freedom is development, and if
every man has a right to freedom, then every man has a right to the
possibility of development. From this right, however, they allege the
existing industrial system absolutely excludes the great majority. The
freeman cannot realize his freedom, the individual cannot realize his
individuality, without a certain external economic basis of work and
enjoyment, and the best way to furnish him with this is to clothe him in
various ways with collective property.

Lassalle's argument, however, is still more specific than this. In the
beginning of his "Herr Bastiat-Schultze," he quotes a passage from his
previous work on "The System of Acquired Rights," which he informs us he
had intended to expand into a systematic treatise on "The Principles of
Scientific National Economy." This intention he was actually preparing
to fulfil when the Leipzig invitation and letter diverted him at once
into practical agitation. He regrets that circumstances had thus not
permitted the practical agitation to be preceded by the theoretical
codex which should be the basis for it, but adds that the substance of
his theory is contained in this polemic against Schultze-Delitzsch,
though the form of its exposition is considerably modified by his plan
of following the ideas of Schultze's "Working Men's Catechism," and by
his purpose of answering Schultze's misplaced taunt of "half knowledge"
by trying to extinguish the economic pretensions of the latter as
completely as he had done the literary pretensions of Julian Schmidt.
"Every line I write," says Lassalle, with a characteristic finality of
self-confidence, "I write armed with the whole culture of my century";
and at any rate Schultze-Delitzsch was far his inferior in economic as
in other knowledge. In the passage to which I have referred, Lassalle
says, "The world is now face to face with a new social question, the
question whether, since there is no longer any property in the immediate
use of another man, there should still exist property in his mediate
exploitation--_i.e._, whether the free realization and development of
one's power and labour should be the exclusive private property of the
owner of the instruments and advances necessary for labour--_i.e._, of
capital; and whether the employer as such, and apart from the
remuneration of his own intellectual labour of management, should be
permitted to have property in the value of other people's
labour--_i.e._, whether he ought to receive what is known as the
premium or profit of capital, consisting of the difference between the
selling price of the product and the sum of the wages and salaries of
all kinds of labour, manual and mental, that have contributed to its

His standing-point here, again, as always, belongs to the philosophy of
history--to the idea of historical evolution with which his Hegelianism
had early penetrated him. The course of legal history has been one of
gradual but steady contraction of the sphere of private property in the
interests of personal freedom and development. The ancient system of
slavery, under which the labourer was the absolute and complete property
of his master, was followed by the feudal system of servitudes, under
which he was still only partially proprietor of himself, but was bound
by law to a particular lord by one or more of a most manifold series of
specific services. These systems have been successively abolished. There
is no longer property in man or in the use of man. No man can now be
either inherited or sold in whole or in part. He is his own, and his
power of labour is his own. But he is still far from being in full
possession of himself or of his labour. He cannot work without materials
to work on and instruments to work with, and for these the modern
labourer is more dependent than ever labourer was before on the private
owners in whose hands they have accumulated. And the consequence is that
under existing industrial arrangements the modern labourer has no more
individual property in his labour than the ancient slave had. He is
obliged to part with the whole value of his labour, and content himself
with bare subsistence in return. It is in this sense that socialist
writers maintain property to be theft--not that subjectively the
proprietors are thieves, but that objectively, under the exigencies of a
system of competition, they cannot help offering workmen, and workmen
cannot help accepting, wages far under the true value of their labour.
Labour is the source of all wealth, for the value of anything--that
which makes it wealth--is, on the economists' own showing, only another
name for the amount of labour put into the making of it; and labour is
the only ground on which modern opponents of socialism--Thiers and
Bastiat, for example--think the right of individual property can be
established. Yet on the methods of distribution of wealth that now
exist, individual property is not founded on this its only justifiable
basis, and the aim of socialists is to emancipate the system of
distribution from the influence of certain unconscious forces which, as
they allege, at present disturb it, and to bring back individual
property for the first time to its natural and rightful
foundation--labour. Their aim is not to abolish private property, but to
purify it, by means of some systematic social regulation which shall
give each man a share more conformable with his personal merit and
contribution. Even if no question is raised about the past, it is plain
that labour is every day engaged in making more new property. Millions
of labouring men are, day after day, converting their own brain, muscle,
and sinew into useful commodities, into value, into wealth. Now, the
problem of the age, according to Lassalle, is this, whether this unmade
property of the future should not become genuine labour property, and
its value remain greatly more than at present in the hands that actually
produced it.

This, he holds, can only be done by a fundamental reconstruction of the
present industrial system, and by new methods of determining the
remuneration of the labouring class. For there is a profound
contradiction in the present system. It is unprecedentedly communistic
in production, and unprecedentedly individualistic in distribution. Now
there ought to be as real a joint participation in the product, as there
is already a joint participation in the work. Capital must become the
servant of labour instead of its master, profits must disappear,
industry must be conducted more on the mutual instead of the proprietary
principle, and the instruments of production be taken out of private
hands and turned into collective or even, it may be, national property.
In the old epoch, before 1789, industrial society was governed by the
principle of solidarity without freedom; in the period since 1789, by
freedom without solidarity, which has been even worse; in the epoch now
opening, the principle must be solidarity in freedom.

Partisans of the present system object to any social interference with
the distribution of wealth, but they forget how much--how entirely--that
distribution is even now effected by social methods. The present
arrangement of property, says Lassalle, is, in fact, nothing but an
anarchic and unjust socialism. How do you define socialism? he asks.
Socialism is a distribution of property by social channels. Now this is
the condition of things that exists to-day. There exists, under the
guise of individual production, a distribution of property by means of
purely objective movements of society. For there is a certain natural
solidarity in things as they are, only being under no rational control,
it operates as a wild natural force, as a kind of fate destroying all
rational freedom and all rational responsibility in economic affairs. In
a sense, there never was more solidarity than there is now; there never
was so much interdependence. Under the large system of production,
masses of workmen are simply so many component parts of a single great
machine driven by the judgment or recklessness of an individual
capitalist. With modern facilities of inter-communication, too, the
trade of the world is one and indivisible. A deficient cotton harvest in
America carries distress into thousands of households in Lyons, in
Elberfeld, in Manchester. A discovery of gold in Australia raises all
prices in Europe. A simple telegram stating that rape prospects are good
in Holland instantly deprives the oilworkers of Prussia of half their
wages. So far from there being any truth in the contention of
Schultze-Delitzsch, that the existing system is the only sound one,
because it is founded on the principle of making every man responsible
for his own doings, the very opposite is the case. The present system
makes every man responsible for what he does not do. In consequence of
the unprecedented interconnection of modern industry, the sum of
conditions needed to be known for its successful guidance have so
immensely increased that rational calculation is scarcely possible, and
men are enriched without any merit, and impoverished without any fault.
According to Lassalle, in the absence as yet of an adequate system of
commercial statistics, the number of known conditions is always much
smaller than the number of unknown, and the consequence is, that trade
is very much a game of chance. Everything in modern industrial economy
is ruled by social connections, by favourable or unfavourable situations
and opportunities. _Conjunctur_ is its great Orphic chain. Chance is its
Providence--Chance and his sole and equally blind counsellor,
Speculation. Every age and condition of society, says Lassalle, tends to
develop some phenomenon that more particularly expresses its type and
spirit, and the purest type of capitalistic society is the financial
speculator. Capital, he maintains, is a historical and not a logical
category, and the capitalist is a modern product. He is the development,
not of the ancient Croesus or the mediæval lord, but of the usurer, who
has taken their place, but was in their lifetime hardly a respectable
person. Croesus was a very rich man, but he was not a capitalist, for he
could do anything with his wealth except capitalize it. The idea of
money making money and of capital being self-productive, which Lassalle
takes to be the governing idea of the present order of things, was, he
says, quite foreign to earlier periods. Industry is now entirely under
the control of capitalists speculating for profit. No one now makes
things first of all for his own use--as mythologizing economists
relate--and then exchanges what is over for the like redundant work of
his neighbours. Men make everything first of all, and last of all, for
other people's use, and they make it at the direction and expense of a
capitalist who is speculating for money, and, in the absence of
systematic statistics, is speculating in the dark. Chance and social
connections make him rich, chance and social connections bring him to
ruin. Capital is not the result of saving, it is the result of
_Conjunctur_; and so are the vicissitudes and crises that have so
immensely increased in modern times. What you have now, therefore, says
Lassalle, is a system of socialism; wealth is at present distributed by
social means, and by nothing else; and all he contends for is, as he
says, to substitute a regulated and rational socialism for this anarchic
and natural socialism that now exists.

His charge against the present system, however, is more than that it is
anarchic; he maintains it to be unjust--organically and hopelessly
unjust. The labourer's back is the green table on which the whole game
is played, and all losses are in the end sustained by him. A slightly
unfavourable turn of things sends him at once into want, while even a
considerably favourable one brings him no corresponding advantage, for,
according to all economists, wages are always the last thing to rise
with a reviving trade. The present system is, in fact, incapable of
doing the labourer justice, and would not suffer employers to do so even
if they wished. Injustice is bred in its very bone and blood. In this
contention Lassalle builds his whole argument on premises drawn from the
accepted economic authorities. Socialist economics, he says, is nothing
but a battle against Ricardo, whom he describes as the last and most
representative development of _bourgeois_ economics; and it fights the
battle with Ricardo's own weapons, and on Ricardo's own ground. There
are two principles in particular of which it makes much use--Ricardo's
law of value and Ricardo's law of natural or necessary wages.

Ricardo's law of value is that the value of a commodity, or the quantity
of any other commodity for which it will exchange, depends on the
relative quantity of labour which is necessary for its production, and
not on the greater or less compensation which is paid for that labour.
Value is thus resolved into so much labour, or what is the same thing,
so much time consumed in labour, mental and manual, upon the commodity.
This reduction of value to quantity of time is reckoned by Lassalle the
one great merit of Ricardo and the English economists. Ricardo, however,
strictly limited his law to commodities that admitted of indefinite
multiplication, the value of other commodities being, he held, regulated
by their scarcity; and he confined it to the normal value of the
commodities only, the fluctuations of their market-price depending on
other considerations. But Lassalle seeks to make it cover these cases
also by means of a distinction he draws between individual time of
labour, and socially necessary time of labour. According to this
distinction, what constitutes the value of a product is not the time
actually taken or required by the person who made it; for he may have
been indolent or slow, or may not have used the means and appliances
which the age he lived in afforded him. What constitutes value is the
average time of labour socially necessary, the time required by labour
of average efficiency using the methods the age supplies. If the
commodity can be produced in an hour, an hour's work will be its value,
though you have taken ten to produce it by slower methods. So far there
is nothing very remarkable, but Lassalle goes on to argue that you may
waste your time not merely by using methods that society has superseded,
but by producing commodities that society no longer wants. You go on
making shoe-buckles after they have gone out of fashion, and you can get
nothing for them. They have no value. And why? Because, while they
indeed represent labour, they do not represent socially necessary
labour. So again with over-production: you may produce a greater amount
of a commodity than society requires at the time. The value of the
commodity falls. Why? Because while it has cost as much actual labour as
before, it has not cost so much socially necessary labour. In fact, the
labour it has taken has been socially unnecessary, for there was no
demand for the product. On the other hand--and we are entitled to make
this expansion of Lassalle's argument--take the case of
under-production, of deficient supply. Prices rise. What is usually
known as a scarcity value is conferred on commodities. But this scarcity
value Lassalle converts into a labour value; the commodity is produced
by the same individual labour, but the labour is more socially
necessary. In plain English, there is more demand for the product.

Lassalle's distinction is thus an ingenious invention for expressing
rarity value in terms of labour value. It has no theoretical importance,
but is of some practical service in the socialistic argument. That
argument is not that value is constituted by labour pure and simple, but
by labour modified by certain general conditions of society; only it
holds that these conditions--conditions of productivity, of rarity, of
demand--have been created by nobody in particular, that, therefore,
nobody in particular should profit by them, and that so far as the
problem of the distribution of value goes, the one factor in the
constitution of value which needs to be taken into account in settling
that problem, is labour. All value comes from labour, represents so much
time of labour, is, in fact, so much "labour-jelly," so much preserved

While one accepted economic law thus declares that all value is
conferred by the labourer, and is simply his sweat, brain, and sinew
incorporated in the product, another economic law declares that he gains
no advantage from the productivity of his own work, and that whatever
value he produces, he earns only the same wages--bare customary
subsistence. In that lies the alleged injustice of the present system.
Von Thuenen, the famous Feudalist landowner and economic
experimentalist, said, many years ago, that when the modern working
class once began to ask the question, What is natural wages? a
revolution might arise which would reduce Europe to barbarism. This is
the question Lassalle asked, and by which mainly he stirred up
socialism. The effect of the previous argument was to raise the
question, What is the labourer entitled to get? and to suggest the
answer, he is entitled to get everything. The next question is, What,
then, does the labourer actually get? and the answer is, that on the
economists' own showing, he gets just enough to keep soul and body
together, and on the present system can never get any more. Ricardo, in
common with other economists, had taught that the value of labour, like
the value of everything else, was determined by the cost of its
production, and that the cost of the production of labour meant the cost
of the labourer's subsistence according to the standard of living
customary among his class at the time. Wages might rise for a season
above this level, or fall for a season below it, but they always tended
to return to it again, and would not permanently settle anywhere else.
When they rose higher, the labouring class were encouraged by their
increased prosperity to marry, and eventually their numbers were thus
multiplied to such a degree that by the force of ordinary competition
the rate of wages was brought down again; when they fell lower,
marriages diminished and mortality increased among the working class,
and the result was such a reduction of their numbers as to raise the
rate of wages again to its old level. This is the economic law of
natural or necessary wages--"the iron and cruel law" which Lassalle
declared absolutely precluded the wage-labourers--_i.e._, 96 per cent.
of the population--from all possibility of ever improving their
condition or benefiting in the least from the growing productivity of
their own work. This law converted industrial freedom into an aggravated
slavery. The labourer was unmanned, taken out of a relationship which,
with all its faults, was still a human and personal one, put under an
impersonal and remorseless economic law, sent like a commodity to be
bought in the cheapest market, and there dispossessed by main force of
competition of the value of the property which his own hands had made.
_Das Eigenthum ist Fremdthum geworden._

It is no wonder that teaching like this should move the minds of working
men to an intolerable sense of despair and wrong. Nor was there any
possibility of hope except in a revolution. For the injustice complained
of lay in the essence of the existing economic system, and could not be
removed, except with the complete abolition of the system. The only
solution of the question, therefore, was a socialistic reconstruction
which should make the instruments of production collective property, and
subordinate capital to labour, but such a solution would of course be
the work of generations, and meanwhile, the easiest method of transition
from the old order of things to the new, lay in establishing productive
associations of working men on State credit. These would form the living
seed-corn of the new era. This was just Louis Blanc's scheme, with two
differences--viz., that the associations were to be formed gradually,
and that they were to be formed voluntarily. The State was not asked to
introduce a new organization of labour by force all at once, but merely
to lend capital at interest to one sound and likely association after
another, as they successively claimed its aid. This loan was not to be
gratuitous, as the French socialists used to demand in 1848, and since
there would be eventually only one association of the same trade in each
town, and since, besides, they would also establish a system of mutual
assurance against loss, trade by trade, the State, it was urged, would
really incur no risk. Lassalle, speaking of State help, said he did not
want a hand from the State, but only a little finger, and he actually
sought, in the first instance at least, no more than Mr. Gladstone gave
in the Irish Land Act. The scheme was mainly urged, of course, in the
interests of a sounder distribution of wealth; but Lassalle contended
that it would also increase production; and it is important to remember
that he says it would not otherwise be economically justifiable, because
"an increase of production is an indispensable condition of every
improvement of our social state." This increase would be effected by a
saving of cost, in abolishing local competition, doing away with
middle-men and private capitalists, and adapting production better to
needs. The business books of the association would form the basis of a
sound and trustworthy system of commercial statistics, so much required
for the purpose of avoiding over-production. The change would, he
thought, also introduce favourable alterations in consumption, and in
the direction of production; inasmuch as the taste of the working class
for the substantial and the beautiful, would more and more supplant the
taste of the _bourgeoisie_ for the cheap and nasty.

After the death of Lassalle, the movement he began departed somewhat
from the lines on which he launched it. 1st, His plan of replacing
capitalistic industry by productive associations of labourers, founded
on State credit, had always seemed a mockery, or, at least, a makeshift,
to many of the socialists of Germany. It would not destroy competition,
for one association would still of necessity compete with another; and
it would not secure to every man the right to the full product of his
labour, for the members of the stronger productive associations would be
able to exploit the members of the weaker as the ordinary result of
their inter-competition. In other words, Lassalle's plan would not in
their eyes realize the socialist claim, as that claim had been taught to
them by Marx. Their claim could only be realized by the conversion of
all industrial instruments into public property, and the systematic
conduct of all industry by the public authority; and why not aim
straight for that result, they asked, instead of first bringing in a
merely transitional period of productive associations, which would, on
Lassalle's own calculations, take two hundred years to create, and which
might not prove transitional to the socialist state after all? Rodbertus
even had gone against Lassalle on this point, because he wanted to see
individual property converted into national property, and thought
converting it first into joint stock property was really to prevent
rather than promote the main end he had in view.

Then, 2nd, Lassalle was a national, not an international socialist. He
held that every country should solve its own social question for itself,
and that the working-class movement was not, and should not be made,
cosmopolitan. He was even--as Prince Bismarck said in Parliament, when
taxed with having personal relations with him--patriotic. At least he
was an intense believer in Prussia; less, however, because he was a
Prussian than because Prussia was a strong State, and because he thought
that strong States alone could do the world's work in Germany or
elsewhere. By nationality in itself he set but little store; a
nationality had a right to separate existence if it could assert it, but
if it were weak and struggling, its only duty was to submit with
thankfulness to annexation by a stronger power. He wished his followers,
therefore, to keep aloof from the doings of other nations, and to
concentrate their whole exertions upon victory at the elections in their
own country and the gradual development of productive associations on
national loans. This restriction of the range of the movement had from
the first dissatisfied some of its adherents, especially a certain
active section who hated Prussia as much as Lassalle believed in her,
and after the influence of the International began to make itself felt
upon the agitation in Germany, this difference of opinion gathered
gradually to a head. In 1868 a motion was brought before the general
meeting of the League in favour of establishing relations with the
International and accepting its programme. The chief promoters of this
motion were the two present leaders of the Social Democratic party in
the Reichstag, Liebknecht and Bebel, and it was strongly opposed by the
president of the League, Dr. von Schweitzer, an advocate in Frankfort,
and a strong champion of Prussia, who was elected to the presidency in
1866, just at the time the extension of the suffrage gave a fresh
impetus to the movement, and whose energy and gifts of management
contributed greatly to the development of the organization. The motion
was carried by a substantial majority, but before next year Von
Schweitzer had succeeded in turning the tables on his opponents, and at
the general meeting in 1869, Liebknecht and Bebel were expelled from the
League, as traitors to the labourers' cause. After their expulsion they
called together in the same year a congress of working men at Eisenach,
which was attended mainly by delegates from Austria and South Germany,
and founded an independent organization on the principles of the
International, and under the name of the Social Democratic Labour Party
of Germany. The two organizations existed side by side till 1874, when a
union was effected between them at a general meeting at Gotha, and they
became henceforth the Socialist Labour Party. This was the burial of the
national socialism of Lassalle, for though in deference to his
followers, the new programme promised in the meantime to work within
national limits, it expressly recognised that the labourers' movement
was international, and that the great aim to be striven after was a
state of society in which every man should be obliged to share in the
general labour according to his powers, and have a right to receive from
the aggregate product of labour according to what was termed his
rational requirements. Some "orthodox Lassalleans," as they called
themselves, held aloof from this compromise, but they are too few to be
of any importance. They still remain apart from the main body of German
socialism, and live in such good odour with the Government, whether on
account of their unimportance or of their supposed loyalty, that they
were never molested by any application of the Socialist Laws which were
enforced for twelve years strenuously against all other socialists.

Among the causes which brought the others to so much unanimity was
undoubtedly the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, which was
viewed with universal aversion by socialists of every shade. On the
outbreak of the war, Schweitzer and the members of the original League
gave their sympathies warmly to the arms of their country, and the
Social Democratic party was nearly equally divided on the subject; but
after the foundation of the French Republic, they all with one consent
declared that the war ought now to cease, and the socialist deputies, no
matter which organization they belonged to, voted without exception
against granting supplies for its continuance. They were likewise
opposed to the recognition of the title of Emperor and to the
constitution of the Empire, and indeed as republicans they could not be
anything else. From a recollection mainly of these votes Prince Bismarck
considered the movement to be unpatriotic and hostile to the Empire, and
accordingly suppressed its propaganda in 1878, when its growth seemed
likely to prove a serious danger to an Empire whose stability was still
far from being assured by any experience of its advantages. The
socialists retorted upon this policy at their congress at Wyden,
Switzerland, in 1880, by striking out of their programme the limitation
of proceeding by legal means, on the ground that the action of the
Government having made legal means impracticable, no resource was left
but to meet force by force. They thus threw aside the last shred of the
practical policy of Lassalle, and stood out thenceforth as a party of
international revolution.

The movement could, however, hardly help becoming international; not, as
some allege, because this is a peculiarity of revolutionary parties; on
the contrary, other parties may also exhibit it. What, for example, was
the Holy Alliance but an international league of the monarchical and
aristocratic parties against the advance of popular rights? Nor is it a
peculiarity of the present time only. No doubt the increased
inter-communication and inter-dependence between countries now
facilitates its development. There are no longer nations in Europe, said
Heine, but only parties. But in reality it has always been nearly as
much so as now. Any party founded on a definite general principle or
interest may in any age become international, and even what may seem
unpatriotic. The Protestants of France in the 16th century sought help
from England, and the Jacobites of England in the 18th sought help from
France; just as the German socialists of 1870 sided with the French
after Sedan, and the French communists of 1871 preferred to see their
country occupied by the Germans rather than governed by the
"Versaillais." In all these cases the party principles were naturally
international, and the party bias overcame the patriotic.

Besides, the socialist is, almost by necessity of his position and
principles, predisposed to discourage and condemn patriotism. Others,
indeed, condemn it as well as he. Most of the great writers who revived
German literature towards the beginning of this century--Lessing,
Herder, Wieland, Goethe--have all disparaged it. They looked on it as a
narrow and obsolete virtue, useful enough perhaps in rude times, but a
hindrance to rational progress now; the modern virtue was humanity, the
idea of which had just freshly burst upon their age like a new power.
This consideration may no doubt to some extent weigh with socialists
also, for their whole thinking is leavened with the notion of humanity,
but their most immediate objection to patriotism is one of a practical
nature. Their complaint used always to be that the proletarian had no
country, because he was excluded from political rights. He was not a
citizen, and why should he have the feelings of one? But now he has got
political rights, and they still complain. He is in the country, they
say, but not yet of it. He is practically excluded from its
civilization, from all that makes the country worth living or fighting
for. He has no country, for he is denied a man's share in the life that
is going in any. Edmund Ludlow wrote over his door in exile--

     "Every land is my fatherland,
     For all lands are my Father's."

The modern socialist says, No land is my fatherland, for in none am I a
son. He believes himself to be equally neglected in all, and that is
precisely the severest strain that can try the patriotic sentiment. The
proletarian is taught that in every country he is a slave, and that
patriotism and religion only reconcile him to remaining so. Moreover, as
Rodbertus has remarked, the social question itself is, in a sense,
international because it is social.



In opening the present chapter in the previous edition of this book, I
said it was not a little remarkable that the works of Karl Marx, which
had then excited considerable commotion in other European countries,
were still absolutely unknown in England, though England was the country
where they were written, and to whose circumstances they were, in their
author's judgment, pre-eminently applicable. His principal work, "Das
Kapital," is a criticism of modern industrial development as explained
by English economists and exemplified in English society. It shows a
rare knowledge of English economic literature, even of the most obscure
writers; it goes very fully into the conditions of English labour as
described in our parliamentary reports; and out of four hundred odd
books it quotes, more than three hundred are English books. Its
illustrations are drawn from English industrial life, and its very money
allusions are stated in terms of English coin. Its chief doctrine,
moreover, was an old English doctrine, familiar among the disciples of
Owen; and to crown all, if the author's belief was true, England was the
country ripest for its reception, for the socialist revolution, he
thought, would inevitably come when the working class sunk into the
condition of a proletariat, and the working class of England had been a
proletariat for many years already. Yet Marx's work was not at that time
(1884) translated into English, though it had been into most other
European languages, and had enjoyed a very large sale even in Russia, to
whose circumstances it had admittedly very little adaptation. An English
translation appeared at length, however, in 1887, twenty years after the
publication of the original, and a considerable edition was disposed of
within a year, though the price was high. We have therefore grown more
familiar of late with the name and importance of Karl Marx.

Born at Trèves in 1818, the son of a Christian Jew who had a high post
in the civil service, Marx was sent to the University of Bonn, towards
the end of the '30s, won a considerable reputation there in philosophy
and jurisprudence, determined, like Lassalle, to devote himself to the
academic profession, and seemed destined for an eminently successful
career, in which his subsequent marriage with the sister of the Prussian
Minister of State, Von Westphalen, would certainly have facilitated his
advancement. But at the University he came under the spell of Hegel, and
passed, step by step, with the Extreme Left of the Hegelian school, into
the philosophical, religious, and political Radicalism which finally
concentrated into the Humanism of Feuerbach. Just as he had finished his
curriculum, the accession of Frederick William IV. in 1840 stirred a
rustle of most misplaced expectation among the Liberals of Germany, who
thought the day of freedom was at length to break, and who rose with
generous eagerness to the tasks to which it was to summon them. Under
the influence of these hopes and feelings, Marx abandoned the
professorial for an editorial life, and committed himself at the very
outset of his days to a political position which compromised him
hopelessly with German governments, and forced him, step by step, into a
long career of revolutionary agitation and organization. He joined the
staff of the _Rhenish Gazette_, which was founded at that time in
Cologne by the leading Liberals of the Rhine country, including
Camphausen and Hansemann, and which was the organ of the Young Hegelian,
or Philosophical Radical Party, and he made so great an impression by
his bold and vigorous criticism of the proceedings of the Rhenish
Landtag that he was appointed editor of the newspaper in 1842. In this
post he continued his attacks on the Government, and they were at once
so effective and so carefully worded that a special censor was sent from
Berlin to Cologne to take supervision of his articles, and when this
agency proved ineffectual, the journal was suppressed by order of the
Prussian Ministry in 1843. From Cologne Marx went to Paris to be a joint
editor of the _Deutsche Französische Jahrbücher_ with Arnold Ruge, a
leader of the Hegelian Extreme Left, who had been deprived of his
professorship at the University of Halle by the Prussian Government, and
whose magazine, the _Deutsche Jahrbücher_, published latterly at Leipzig
to escape the Prussian authority, had just been suppressed by the Saxon.
The _Deutsche Französische Jahrbücher_ were published by the well-known
Julius Froebel, who had some time before given up his professorship at
Zürich to edit a democratic newspaper, and open a shop for the sale of
democratic literature; who professed himself a communist in Switzerland,
and had written some able works, with very radical and socialistic
leanings, but who seems to have gone on a different tack at the time of
the Lassallean movement, for he was--as Meding shows us in his "Memoiren
zur Zeitgeschichte"--the prime promoter of the ill-fated Congress of
Princes at Frankfort in 1865. The new magazine was intended to be a
continuation of the suppressed _Deutsche Jahrbücher_, on a more extended
plan, embracing French as well as German contributors, and supplying in
some sort a means of uniting the Extreme Left of both nations; but no
French contribution ever appeared in it, and it ceased altogether in a
year's time, probably for commercial reasons, though there is no
unlikelihood in the allegation sometimes made, that it was stopped in
consequence of a difference between the editors as to the treatment of
the question of communism.

The Young Hegelians had already begun to take the keenest interest in
that question, but were, for a time, curiously perplexed as to the
attitude they should assume towards it. They seem to have been
fascinated and repelled by turns by the system, and to have been equally
unable to cast it aside or to commit themselves fairly to it. Karl Grün,
himself a Young Hegelian, says that at first they feared socialism, and
points, for striking evidence of this, to the fact that the _Rhenish
Gazette_ bestowed an enthusiastic welcome on Stein's book on French
communism, although that book condemned the system from a theologically
orthodox and politically reactionary point of view. But he adds that the
Young Hegelians contributed to the spread of socialism against their
will, that it was through the interest they took in its speculations and
experiments that socialism acquired credit and support in public opinion
in Germany, and that the earliest traces of avowed socialism are to be
found in the _Rhenish Gazette_. If we may judge by the extracts from
some of Marx's articles in that journal which are given in Bruno Bauer's
"Vollständige Geschichte der Parthei-Kämpfe in Deutschland während der
Jahre 1842-46," we should say that Marx was even at this early period a
decided socialist, for he often complains of the great wrong "the poor
dumb millions" suffer in being excluded by their poverty from the
possibility of a free development of their powers, "and from any
participation in the fruits of civilization," and maintains that the
State had far other duty towards them than to come in contact with them
only through the police. When Ruge visited Cabet in Paris, he said that
he and his friends (meaning, he explained, the philosophical and
political opposition) stood so far aloof from the question of communism
that they had never yet so much as raised it, and that, while there were
communists in Germany, there was no communistic party. This statement is
probably equivalent to saying that he and his school took as yet a
purely theoretical and Platonic interest in socialism, and had not come
to adopt it as part of their practical programme. Most of them were
already communists by conviction, and the others felt their general
philosophical and political principles forcing them towards communism,
and the reason of their hesitation in accepting it is probably expressed
by Ruge, when he says (in an article in Heinzen's "Die Opposition," p.
103), that the element of truth in communism was its sense of the
necessity of political emancipation, but that there was a great danger
of communists forgetting the political question in their zeal for the
social. It was chiefly under the influence of the Humanism into which
Feuerbach had transformed the Idealism of Hegel, that the Hegelian Left
passed into communism. Humanist and communist became nearly convertible
terms. Friedrich Engels mentions in his book on the condition of the
English working classes, published in 1845, that all the German
communists of that day were followers of Feuerbach, and most of the
followers of Feuerbach in Germany (Ruge seems to have remained an
exception) were communists. Lassalle was one of Feuerbach's
correspondents, and after he started the present socialist movement in
Germany, he wrote Feuerbach on 21st October, 1863, saying that the
Progressists were political rationalists of the feeblest type, and that
it was the same battle which Feuerbach was waging in the theological,
and he himself now in the political and economic sphere. Stein
attributed French socialism greatly to the prevailing sensualistic
character of French philosophy, which conceived enjoyment to be man's
only good, and never rose to what he calls the great German conception,
the logical conception of the Ego, the idea of knowing for the sake of
knowing. The inference this contrast suggests is that the metaphysics of
Germany had been her protector, her national guard, against socialism,
but as we see, at the very time he was writing the guard was turning
traitor, and a native socialism was springing up by natural generation
out of the idealistic philosophy. The fact, however, rather confirms the
force of Stein's remark, for the Hegelian idealism first bred the more
sensualistic system of humanism, and then humanism bred socialism.

Hegel had transformed the transcendental world of current opinion, with
its personal Deity and personal immortality, into a world of reason; and
Feuerbach went a step further, and abolished what he counted the
transcendency of reason itself. Heaven and God, he entirely admitted,
were nothing but subjective illusions, fantastic projections of man's
own being and his own real world into external spheres. But mind, an
abstract entity, and reason, a universal and single principle, were, in
his opinion, illusions too. There was nothing real but man--the concrete
flesh and blood man who thinks and feels. "God," says Feuerbach,
speaking of his mental development, "was my first thought, Reason my
second, Man my third and last." He passed, as Lange points out, through
Comte's three epochs. Theology was swept away, and then metaphysics, and
in its room came a positive and materialistic anthropology which
declared that the senses were the sole sources of real knowledge, that
the body was not only part of man's being, but its totality and essence,
and, in short, that man is what he eats--_Der Mensch ist was er isst_.
Man, therefore, had no other God before man, and the promotion of man's
happiness and culture in this earthly life--which was his only life--was
the sole natural object of his political or religious interest. This
system was popularized by Feuerbach's brother Friedrich, in a little
work called the "Religion of the Future," which enjoyed a high authority
among the German communists, and formed a kind of lectionary they read
and commented on at their stated meetings. The object of the new
religion is thus described in it:--"Man alone is our God, our father,
our judge, our redeemer, our true home, our law and rule, the alpha and
omega of our political, moral, public, and domestic life and work. There
is no salvation but by man." And the cardinal articles of the faith are
that human nature is holy, that the impulse to pleasure is holy, that
everything which gratifies it is holy, that every man is destined and
entitled to be happy, and for the attainment of this end has the right
to claim the greatest possible assistance from others, and the duty to
afford the same to them in turn.

Now the tendency of this metaphysical and moral teaching was strongly
democratic and socialistic. There was said to be in the existing
political system a false transcendency identical with that of the
current religious system. King and council hovered high and away above
the real life of society in a world of their own, looking on political
power as a kind of private property, and careless of mankind, from whom
it sprang, to whom it belonged, and by whom and for whom it should be
administered. "The princes are gods," says Feuerbach, "and they must
share the same fate. The dissolution of theology into anthropology in
the field of thought is the dissolution of monarchy into republic in the
field of politics. Dualism, separation is the essence of theology;
dualism, separation is the essence of monarchy. There we have the
antithesis of God and world; here we have the antithesis of State and
people." This dualism must be abolished. The State must be
_humanized_--must be made an instrument in the hands of all for the
welfare of all; and its inhabitants must be _politized_, for they, all
of them, constitute the _polis_. Man must no longer be a means, but must
be everywhere and always an end. There was nobody above man; there was
neither superhuman person, nor consecrated, person; neither deity, nor
divine right. And, on the other hand, as there is no person who in being
or right is more than man, so there must be no person who is less. There
must be no _unmenschen_, no slaves, no heretics, no outcasts, no
outlaws, but every being who wears human flesh must be placed in the
enjoyment of the full rights and privileges of man. The will of man be
done, hallowed be his name.

These principles already bring us to the threshold of socialism, and now
Feuerbach's peculiar ethical principle carries us into its courts. That
principle has been well termed Tuism, to distinguish it from Egoism. The
human unit is not the individual, but man in converse with man, the
sensual Ego with the sensual Tu. The isolated man is incomplete, both as
a moral and as a thinking being. "The nature of man is contained only in
the community, in the unity of man with man. Isolation is finitude and
limitation, community is freedom and infinity. Man by himself is but
man; man with man, the unity of I and Thou, is God." Feuerbach
personally never became a communist, for he says his principle was
neither egoism nor communism, but the combination of both. They were
equally true, for they were inseparable, and to condemn self-love would
be, he declared, to condemn love to others at the same time, for love to
others was nothing but a recognition that their self-love was
justifiable. But it is easy to perceive the natural tendency of the
teaching that the social man was the true human unit and essence, and
was to the individual as a God. With most of his disciples Humanism
meant making the individual disappear in the community, making egoism
disappear in love, and making private property disappear in collective.
Hess flatly declared that "the species was the end, and the individuals
were only means." Ruge disputed this doctrine, and contended that the
empirical individual was the true human unit and the true end; but even
he said that socialism was the humanism of common life. Grün passes into
socialism by simply applying to property Feuerbach's method of dealing
with theology and monarchy. He argues that if the true essence of man is
the social man, then, just as theology is anthropology, so is
anthropology socialism, for property is at present entirely alienated,
externalized from the social man. There is a false transcendency in it,
like that of divinity and monarchy. "Deal, therefore," he says, "with
the practical God, money, as Feuerbach dealt with the theoretical";
humanize it. Make property an inalienable possession of manhood, of
every man as man. For property is a necessary material for his social
activity, and therefore ought to belong as inalienably and essentially
to him as everything which he otherwise possesses of means or materials
for his activity in life; as inalienably, for example, as his body or
his personal acquirements. If man is the social man, some social
possession is then necessary to his manhood, and might be called an
essential part of it; but existing property is something outside, as
separate from him as heaven or the sovereign power. Grün accordingly
says that Feuerbach's "Essence of Christianity" supplies the theoretical
basis for Proudhon's social system, because the latter only applies to
practical life the principles which the former applied to religion and
metaphysics, but he admits that neither Feuerbach nor Proudhon would
acknowledge the connection.

We thus see how theoretical humanism--a philosophy and a religion--led
easily over into the two important articles of practical humanism, a
democratic transformation of the State and a communistic transformation
of society. This was the ideal of the humanists, and it contains ample
and wide-reaching positive features; but when it came to practical
action they preferred for the present to take up an attitude of simple
but implacable negation to the existing order of things. No doubt
variety of opinion existed among them; but if they are to be judged by
what seemed their dominant interest, they were revolutionaries and
nothing else. They repudiated with one consent the socialist utopias of
France, and refrained on principle from committing themselves to, or
even discussing, any positive scheme of reconstruction whatsoever. They
held it premature to think of positive proposals, which would, moreover,
be sure to sow divisions among themselves. Their first great business
was not to build up, but to destroy, and their work in the meantime was
therefore to develop the revolutionary spirit to its utmost possible
energy, by exciting hatred against all existing institutions; in short,
to create an immense reservoir of revolutionary energy which might be
turned to account when its opportunity arrived. Their position is
singularly like the phase of Russian nihilism described by Baron Fircks,
and presented to us in Turgenieff's novels. It is expressed very plainly
by W. Marr, himself an active humanist, who carried Feuerbach's "Essence
of Christianity" as his constant companion, and founded a secret society
for promoting humanistic views. In his interesting book on Secret
Societies in Switzerland, he says, "The masses can only be gathered
under the flag of negation. When you present detailed plans, you excite
controversies and sow divisions; you repeat the mistake of the French
socialists, who have scattered their redoubtable forces because they
tried to carry formulated systems. We are content to lay down the
foundation of the revolution. We shall have deserved well of it if we
stir hatred and contempt against all existing institutions. We make war
against all prevailing ideas, of religion, of the State, of country, of
patriotism. The idea of God is the keystone of a perverted civilization.
It must be destroyed. The true root of liberty, of equality, of culture,
is Atheism. Nothing must restrain the spontaneity of the human mind."
All this work of annihilation could neither be done by reform, nor by
conspiracy, but only by revolution, and "a revolution is never made; it
makes itself." While the revolution was making, Marr founded an
association in Switzerland, "Young Germany," which should prepare
society for taking effective action when the hour came. There was a
"Young Germany" in Switzerland when he arrived there; part of a
federation of secret societies established by Mazzini in 1834, under the
general name of "Young Europe," and comprising three series of
societies:--"Young Italy," composed of Italians; "Young Poland," of
Poles; and "Young Germany," of Germans. But this organization was not at
all to Marr's mind, because it concerned itself with nothing but
politics, and because its method was conspiracy. "Great
transformations," he said, "are never prepared by conspiracies," and it
was a very great transformation indeed that he contemplated. He
therefore formed a "Young Germany" of his own. His plan was to plant a
lodge, or "family," wherever there existed a German working men's
association. The members of this family became members of the
association, and formed a leaven which influenced all around them, and,
through the wandering habits of the German working class, was carried to
much wider circles. The family met for political discussion once a week,
read Friedrich Feuerbach together on the Sundays with fresh recruits,
who, when they had mastered him, were said to have put off the old man;
and their very password was _humanity_, a brother being recognised by
using the half-word _human_--? interrogatively, and the other replying
by the remaining half--_ität_. The members were all ardent democrats,
but, as a rule, so national in their sympathies that the leaders made it
one great object of their _disciplina arcani_ to stifle the sentiment of
patriotism by subjecting it to constant ridicule.

Their relations to communism are not quite easy to determine. Marr
himself sometimes expresses disapproval of the system. He says,
"Communism is the expression of impotence of will. The communists lack
confidence in themselves. They suffer under social oppression, and look
around for consolation instead of seeking for weapons to emancipate
themselves with. It is only a world-weariness desiring illusion as the
condition of its life." He says the belief in the absolute dependence of
man on matter is the shortest and most pregnant definition of communism,
and that it starts from the principle that man is a slave and incapable
of emancipating himself. But, on the other hand, he complains that the
members of "Young Germany" did not sufficiently appreciate the social
question, being disgusted with the fanaticism of the communists. By the
communists, he here means the followers of Weitling and Albrecht, who
were at that time creating a party movement in Switzerland. The prophet
Albrecht, as he is called, was simply a crazy mystic with proclivities
to sedition which brought him at length to prison for six years, and
which took there an eschatological turn from his having, it is said,
nothing to read but the Bible, so that on his release he went about
prophesying that Jehovah had prepared a way in the desert, which was
Switzerland, for bringing into Europe a reign of peace, in which people
should hold all things in common and enjoy complete sensuous happiness,
sitting under their common vine and fig-tree, with neither king nor
priest to make them any more afraid. Weitling was not quite so
unimportant, but the attention he excited at the time is certainly not
justified by any of the writings he has left us. He was a tailor from
Magdeburg, who was above his work, believing himself to be a poet and a
man of letters, condemned by hard fate and iniquitous social
arrangements to a dull and cruel lot. Having gone to Paris when
socialism was the rage there, he eagerly embraced that new gospel, and
went to Switzerland to carry its message of hope to his own German
countrymen. There he forsook the needle altogether, and lived as the
paid apostle of the dignity of manual labour, for which he had himself
little mind. His ideas are crude, confused, and arbitrary. His ideal of
society was a community of labourers, with no State, no Church, no
individual property, no distinction of rank or position, no nationality,
no fatherland. All were to have equal rights and duties, and each was to
be put in a position to develop his capacity and gratify his bents as
far as possible. He was moved more by the desire for abstract equality
than German socialists of the humanist or contemporary type, for they do
not build on the justice of a more equal distribution of wealth so much
as on the necessity of the possession of property for the free
development of the human personality. He is entirely German, however, in
his idea of the government of the new society. It was to be governed by
the three greatest philosophers of the age, assisted by a board of
trade, a board of health, and a board of education. In Switzerland he
founded, to promote his views, a secret society, the "Alliance of the
Just," which had branches in most of the Swiss towns. Its members were
chiefly Germans from Germany, for very few of the communists in
Switzerland were born Swiss, and according to Marr, who was present at
some of their meetings, they were three-fourths of them tailors. "I
felt," says Marr, "when I entered one of these clubs, that I was with
the mother of tailors. The tailor sitting and chatting at his work is
always extreme in his opinions. Tailor and communist are synonymous
terms." It was to some of the leaders of this alliance that Weitling
unfolded his wild scheme of a proletariat raid, according to which an
army of 20,000 brigands was to be raised among the proletariat of the
large towns, to go with torch and sword into all the countries of
Europe, and terrify the _bourgeoisie_ into a recognition of universal
community of goods. It is only fair to add that his proposal met with no
favour. Letters were found in his possession, and subsequently published
in Bluntschli's official report, which show that some of Weitling's
correspondents regarded his scheme with horror, and others treated it
with ridicule. One of them said it was trying to found the kingdom of
heaven with the furies of hell. The relations between "Young Germany"
and Weitling's allies were apparently not cordial, though they had so
much in common that, on the one hand, Weitling's correspondents urge him
to keep on good terms with "Young Germany," and, on the other, Marr says
he actually tried to get a common standing ground with the communists,
and thought he had found it in the negation of the present system of
things--the negation of religion, the negation of patriotism, the
negation of subjection to authority.

Now the importance of this excursus on the Young Hegelians lies in the
fact that Karl Marx was a humanist, and looked on humanism as the vital
and creative principle in the renovation of political and industrial
society. In the _Deutsche Französische Jahrbücher_ he published an
article on the Hegelian Philosophy of Right, in which he says: "The new
revolution will be introduced by philosophy. The revolutionary tradition
of Germany is theoretical. The Reformation was the work of a monk; the
Revolution will be the work of a philosopher." The particular philosophy
that was to do the work is that of the German critics, whose critique of
religion had ended in the dogma that man is the highest being for man,
and in the categorical imperative, "to destroy everything in the present
order of things that makes a man a degraded, insulted, forsaken, and
despised being." But philosophy cannot work a revolution without
material weapons; and it will find its material weapon in the
proletariat, which he owns, however, was at the time he wrote only
beginning to be formed in Germany. But when it rises in its strength, it
will be irresistible, and the revolution which it will accomplish will
be the only one known to history that is not utopian. Other revolutions
have been partial, wrought by a class in the interests of a class; but
this one will be a universal and uniform revolution, effected in the
name of all society, for the proletariat is a class which possesses a
universal character because it dissolves all other separate classes into
itself. It is the only class that takes its stand on a human and not a
historical title. Its very sorrows and grievances have nothing special
or relative in them; they are the broad sorrows and grievances of
humanity. And its claims are like them; for it asks no special
privileges or special prerogatives; it asks nothing but what all the
world will share along with it. The history of the world is the judgment
of the world, and the duration of an order of things founded on the
ascendancy of a limited class possessing money and culture, is
practically condemned and foredoomed by the rapid multiplication of a
large class outside which possess neither. The growth of this latter
body not merely tends to produce, but actually _is_, the dissolution of
the existing system of things. For the existing system is founded on the
assertion of private property, but the proletariat is forced by society
to take the opposite principle of the negation of private property for
the principle of its own life, and will naturally carry that principle
into all society when it gains the power, as it is rapidly and
inevitably doing. Marx sums up: "The only practical emancipation for
Germany is an emancipation proceeding from the standpoint of the theory
which explains man to be the highest being for man. In Germany the
emancipation from the middle ages is only possible as at the same time
an emancipation from the partial conquests of the middle ages. In
Germany one kind of bond cannot be broken without all other bonds being
broken too. Germany is by nature too thorough to be able to
revolutionize without revolutionizing from a fundamental principle, and
following that principle to its utmost limits; and therefore the
emancipation of Germany will be the emancipation of man. The head of
this emancipation is philosophy; its heart is the proletariat." He adds
that when things are ripe, "when all the inner conditions have been
completed, the German resurrection day will be heralded by the crowing
of the Gallic cock."

In this essay we mark already Marx's overmastering belief in natural
historical evolution, which he had learnt from Hegel, and which
prevented him from having any sympathy with the utopian projects of the
French socialists. They vainly imagined, he held, that they could create
a new world right off, whereas it was only possible to do so by
observing a rigorous conformity to the laws of the development already
in progress, by making use of the forces already at work, and proceeding
in the direction towards which the stream of things was itself slowly
but mightily moving. Hegel sought the principle of organic development
in the State, but Marx sought it rather in civil society, and believed
he had discovered it in that most mighty though unconscious product of
the large system of industry, the modern proletariat, which was born to
revolution as the sparks fly upward; and in the simultaneous decline of
the middle classes, that is, of the conservative element which could
resist the change. The process which was, as he held, now converting
society into an aggregate of beggars and millionaires was bound
eventually to overleap itself and land in a communism. I shall not
discuss the truth of this conception at present, but it contributes,
along with the sentiments of justice and humanity that animate--rightly
or wrongly--the ideal of the socialists, to lend something of a
religious force to their movement, for they feel that they are
fellow-workers with the nature of things.

We left Marx in Paris, and on returning to him, we find him engaged--as
indeed we usually do when his history comes into notice--in a threefold
warfare. Besides his general war against the arrangements of modern
society, he is always carrying on a bitter and implacable war against
the Prussian Government, and is often engaged in controversy--sometimes
very personal--with foes of his own philosophical or revolutionary
household. After the cessation of the _Deutsche Französische
Jahrbücher_, Marx edited a paper called _Vorwärts_, and in this and
other journals open to him, he attacked the Prussian administration so
strongly that that administration complained to Guizot, who gave him
orders to quit France. His more personal controversy at this time arose
out of one of the schisms of the Young Hegelians, and he and his friend
Friedrich Engels wrote a pamphlet--"Die Heilige Familie"--against the
Hegelian Idealism, and especially against Bruno Bauer, who had offended
him--says Erdmann, in his "History of Philosophy"--at once as Jew, as
Radical, and as journalist. When expelled from France, he went to
Brussels, where he was allowed to continue his war upon the Prussian
Government without interference, till the revolution of 1848. During
this period he devoted his attention more particularly than hitherto to
commercial subjects, and published in 1846 his "Discours sur le
Libre-échange," and in 1847 his "Misère de la Philosophie," a reply to
Proudhon's "Philosophie de la Misère"--both in French.

While in Brussels, Marx received an invitation from the London Central
Committee of the Communist League to join that society. This league had
been founded in Paris in 1836, for the purpose of propagating communist
opinions among the working men of Germany. Its organization was
analogous to that of the International and other societies of the same
kind. A certain number of members constituted a _Gemeinde_, the several
_Gemeinden_ in the same town constituted a _Kreis_, a number of _Kreise_
were grouped into a leading _Kreis_, and at the head of the whole was
the Central Committee, which was chosen at a general congress of
deputies from all the _Kreise_, and which had since 1840 had its seat in
London. The method of the league was to establish, as a sphere of
operation, German working men's improvement associations everywhere. The
travelling custom of German working men greatly facilitated this work,
and numbers of these associations were soon founded in Switzerland,
England, Belgium, and the United States. The reason its committee
applied to Marx was that he had just published a series of pamphlets in
Brussels, in which, as he tells us, he "submitted to a merciless
criticism the medley of French-English socialism and communism and of
German philosophy, which then constituted the secret doctrine of the
League," and insisted that "their work could have no tenable theoretical
basis except that of a scientific insight into the economic structure of
society, and that this ought to be put into a popular form, not with the
view of carrying out any utopian system, but of promoting among the
working classes and other classes a self-conscious participation in the
process of historical transformation of society that was taking place
under their eyes." This is always with Marx the distinctive and ruling
feature of his system. The French schemes were impracticable utopias,
because they ignored the laws of history and the real structure of
economic society; and he claims that his own proposals are not only
practicable but inevitable, because they strictly observe the line of
the actual industrial evolution, and are thus, at worst, plans for
accelerating the day after to-morrow. But, besides this difference of
principle, Marx thought the League should also change its method and
tactics. Its work, being that of social revolution, was different from
the work of the old political conspirators and secret societies, and
therefore needed different weapons; the times, too, were changed, and
offered new instruments. Street insurrections, surprises, intrigues,
_pronunciamentos_ might overturn a dynasty, or oust a government, or
bring them to reason, but were of no avail in the world for introducing
collective property or abolishing wage labour. People would just begin
again the day after to work for hire and rent their farms as they did
before. A social revolution needed other and larger preparation; it
needed to have the whole population first thoroughly leavened with its
principles; nay, it needed to possess an international character,
depending not on detached local outbreaks, but on steady concert in
revolutionary action on the part of the labouring classes everywhere.
The cause was not political, or even national, but social; and
society--which was indeed already pregnant with the change--must be
aroused to a conscious consent to the delivery. What was first to be
done, therefore, was to educate and move public opinion, and in this
work the ordinary secret society went but a little way. A secret
propaganda might still be carried on, but a public and open propaganda
was more effectual and more suitable to the times. There never existed
greater facilities for such a movement, and they ought to make use of
all the abundant means of popular agitation and intercommunication which
modern society allowed. No more secret societies in holes and corners,
no more small risings and petty plots, but a great broad organization
working in open day, and working restlessly by tongue and pen to stir
the masses of all European countries to a common international
revolution. Marx sought, in short, to introduce the large system of
production into the art of conspiracy.

Finding his views well received by the Central Committee of the
Communist League, he acceded to their request to attend their General
Congress at London in 1847, and then, after several weeks of keen
discussion, he prevailed upon the Congress to adopt "the Manifesto of
the Communist party," which was composed by himself and Engels, and
which was afterwards translated from the German into English, French,
Danish, and Italian, and sown broadcast everywhere just before the
Revolution of 1848. This Communist League may be said to be the first
organization--and this Communist Manifesto the first public
declaration--of the International Socialist Democracy that now is. The
Manifesto begins by describing the revolutionary situation into which
the course of industrial development has brought modern society. Classes
were dying out; the yeomanry, the nobility, the small tradesmen, would
soon be no more; and society was drawn up in two widely separated
hostile camps, the large capitalist class or _bourgeoisie_, who had all
the property and power in the country, and the labouring class, the
proletariat, who had nothing of either. The _bourgeoisie_ had played a
most revolutionary part in history. They had overturned feudalism, and
now they had created proletarianism, which would soon swamp themselves.
They had collected the masses in great towns; they had kept the course
of industry in perpetual flux and insecurity by rapid successive
transformations of the instruments and processes of production, and by
continual recurrences of commercial crises; and while they had reduced
all other classes to a proletariat, they had made the life of the
proletariat one of privation, of uncertainty, of discontent, of
incipient revolution. They exploited the labourer of political power;
they exploited him of property, for they treated him as a ware, buying
him in the cheapest market for the cost of his production, that is to
say, the cost of his living, and taking from him the whole surplus of
his work, after deducting the value of his subsistence. Under the system
of wage labour, it could not be otherwise. Wages could never, by
economic laws, rise above subsistence. While wage labour created
property, it created it always for the capitalist, and never for the
labourer; and, in fact, the latter only lived at all, so far as it was
for the interests of the governing class, the _bourgeoisie_, to permit
him. Class rule and wage labour must be swept away, for they were
radically unjust, and a new reign must be inaugurated which would be
politically democratic and socially communistic, and in which the free
development of each should be the condition for the free development of

The Manifesto went on to say that communism was not the subversion of
existing principles, but their universalization. Communism did not seek
to abolish the State, but only the _bourgeois_ State, in which the
_bourgeois_ exclusively hold and wield political power. Communism did
not seek to abolish property, but only the _bourgeois_ system of
property, under which private property is really already abolished for
nine-tenths of society, and maintained merely for one-tenth. Communism
did not seek to abolish marriage and the family, but only the
_bourgeois_ system of things under which marriage and the family, in any
true sense of those terms, were virtually class institutions, for the
proletariat could not have any family life worthy of the name, so long
as their wages were so low that they were forced to huddle up their
whole family regardless of all decency, in a single room, so long as
their wives and daughters were victims of the seduction of the
_bourgeoisie_, and so long as their children were taken away prematurely
to labour in mills for _bourgeois_ manufacturers, who yet held up their
hands in horror at the thought of any violation of the institution of
the family. Communism did not tend to abolish fatherland and
nationality--that was abolished already for the proletariat, and was
being abolished for the _bourgeoisie_, too, by the extensions of their

As to the way of emancipation, the proletariat must strive to obtain
political power, and use it to deprive the _bourgeoisie_ of all capital
and means of production, and to place them in the hands of the State,
_i.e._, of the proletariat itself organized as a governing body. Now,
for this, immediate and various measures interfering with property, and
condemned by our current economics, were requisite. Those measures
would naturally be different for different countries, but for the most
advanced countries the following were demanded: (1) Expropriation of
landed property and application of rent to State expenditure; (2)
abolition of inheritance; (3) confiscation of the property of all
emigrants and rebels; (4) centralization of credit in the hands of the
State by means of a national bank, with State capital and exclusive
monopoly; (5) centralization of all means of transport in hands of
State; (6) institution of national factories, and improvement of lands
on a common plan; (7) compulsory obligation of labour upon all equally,
and establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture; (8)
joint prosecution of agriculture and mechanical arts, and gradual
abolition of the distinction of town and country; (9) public and
gratuitous education for all children, abolition of children's labour in
factories, etc. The Manifesto ends by saying:--"The communists do not
seek to conceal their views and aims. They declare openly that their
purpose can only be obtained by a violent overthrow of all existing
arrangements of society. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communistic
revolution. The proletariat have nothing to lose in it but their chains;
they have a world to win. Proletarians of all countries, unite!"

When the French Revolution of February, 1848, broke out, Marx was
expelled without circumstance from Brussels, and received an invitation
from the Provisional Government of Paris to return to France. He
accepted this invitation, but was only a few weeks in Paris when the
German revolution of March occurred, and he hastened to the theatre of
affairs. With his friends, Freiligrath, Wolff, Engels, and others, he
established on June 1st in Cologne the _New Rhenish Gazette_, which was
the soul of the Rhenish revolutionary movement, the most important one
of the year in Germany, and that in which, as we have seen, the young
Lassalle first emerged on the troubled surface of revolutionary
politics. After the _coup d'état_ of November, dissolving the Prussian
Parliament, the _New Rhenish Gazette_ strongly urged the people to stop
paying their taxes, and thus meet force by force. It inserted an
admonition to that effect in a prominent place in every successive
number, and Marx was twice tried for sedition on account of this
admonition, but each time acquitted. The newspaper, however, was finally
suppressed by civil authority after the Dresden insurrection of May,
1849, its last number appearing on June 19th in red type, and containing
Freiligrath's well-known "Farewell of the _New Rhenish
Gazette_"--spiritedly translated for us by Ernest Jones--which declared
that the journal went down with "rebellion" on its lips, but would
reappear when the last of the German Crowns was overturned.

     Farewell, but not for ever farewell!
       They cannot kill the spirit, my brother;
     In thunder I'll rise on the field where I fell,
       More boldly to fight out another.
     When the last of Crowns, like glass, shall break
       On the scene our sorrows have haunted,
     And the people its last dread "Guilty" shall speak,
       By your side you shall find me undaunted.
     On Rhine or on Danube, in war and deed,
       You shall witness, true to his vow,
     On the wrecks of thrones, in the midst of the field,
       The rebel who greets you now.

This vow is no mere Parthian flourish of poetical defiance. Freiligrath
and his friends undoubtedly believed at this time that the political
movements of 1848 and 1849 were but preliminary ripples, and would be
presently succeeded by a great flood-wave of revolution which they heard
already sounding along in their dangerously expectant ear. His poem on
the Revolution remains as evidence to us that in 1850 he still clung to
that hope, and it would not have been out of tune with his sanguine
beliefs of the year before if he promised, not merely that the spirit of
the journal would rise again, but that its next number would be
published, after the Deluge.

Meanwhile Marx went to London, where he remained for the rest of his
life. Finding that the revolutionary spirit did not revive, and that
historical societies, which have not lost their moral and economic
vitality, had a greater readjusting power against political disturbance
than he previously believed, he gave up for the next ten or twelve years
the active work of revolutionizing. The Communist League, which had got
disorganized in the revolutionary year, and was rent in two by a bitter
schism in 1850, was, with his concurrence, dissolved in 1852, on the
ground that its propaganda was no longer opportune; and the story of the
Brimstone League, with its iron discipline and ogrish desires, of which
Mehring says Marx was, during his London residence, the head-centre, is
simply a fairy tale of Karl Vogt's, whose baselessness Marx has himself
completely exposed. Before leaving the Communist League, two
circumstances may be mentioned, because they repeat themselves
constantly in this revolutionary history. The one is that this schism
took place not on a point of doctrine, but of opportunity; the extremer
members thought the conflict in Germany on the Hessian question offered
a good chance for a fresh revolutionary outbreak, and they left the
League because their views were not adopted. The other is that in one of
its last reports (quoted by Mehring) the League definitely justifies,
and even recommends, assassination and incendiarism--"the so-called
excesses, the inflictions of popular vengeance on hated individuals, or
on public buildings which revive hateful associations." For the next ten
years Marx lived quietly in London, writing for the _New York Tribune_
and other journals, and studying modern industry on this its "classical
soil." He read much in the British Museum Library, gaining his
remarkable acquaintance with the English economic writers, and it was
probably in this period he elaborated his famous doctrine of surplus
value, with its corollary of the right of the labourer to the full
product of his labour. There can be no doubt that the original
suggestion of this doctrine came from English sources, for it was taught
more than a generation before among the English socialists, notably by
William Thompson in his "Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution
of Wealth," which was published as early as 1824, and is actually quoted
by Marx in his work on Capital. Marx built up the doctrine, however,
into a more systematic form, and it is through him and not through the
Owenites it has come into the present socialist movement in which it
plays so conspicuous a part. During this period of reading and
rumination, Marx published a pamphlet against Louis Napoleon; another
against Lord Palmerston, which was widely circulated by David Urquhart;
a third of a personal and bitter character against his
fellow-socialist, Karl Vogt; and a more solid and important work, the
"Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie" (1859), the first fruits of his new
economic studies. But a revolutionist never permanently gives up
revolutionizing, and after his prolonged abstinence from that
excitement, Marx returned to it again in 1864, on the foundation of the
famous International Working Men's Association.

The International was simply the Communist League raised again from the
dead. Their principles were the same; their constitution was the same;
and Marx began his inaugural address to the International in 1864 with
the very words that concluded his Communistic Manifesto of 1847,
"Proletarians of all nations, unite!" When the representatives of the
English working men first suggested the formation of an international
working men's association, in the address they presented in the
Freemasons' Tavern to the French working men who were sent over at the
instance of Napoleon III. to the London Exhibition of 1862, they
certainly never dreamt of founding an organization of revolutionary
socialist democracy which in a few years to come was to wear a name at
which the world turned pale. Their address was most moderate and
sensible. They said that some permanent medium of interchanging thoughts
and observations between the working men of different countries was
likely to throw light on the economic secrets of societies, and to help
onwards the solution of the great labour problem. For they declared that
that solution had not yet been discovered, and that the socialist
systems which had hitherto professed to propound it were nothing but
magnificent dreams. Moreover, if the system of competition were to
continue, then some arrangement of concord between employer and labourer
must be devised, and in order to assert the views of the labouring class
effectively in that arrangement, a firm and organized union must be
established among working men, not merely in each country, but in all
countries, for their interests, both as citizens and as labourers, were
everywhere identical. Those ideas would constitute the basis of a very
rational and moderate programme. But when, in the following year, after
a meeting in favour of the Polish insurrection, which was held in St.
Martin's Hall under the presidency of Professor Beesly, and at which
some of the French delegates of 1862 were present, a committee was
appointed to follow up the suggestion, this committee asked Marx to
prepare a programme and statutes for the proposed association, and he
impressed upon it at its birth the stamp of his own revolutionary
socialism. He never had a higher official position in the International
than corresponding secretary for Germany, for it was determined,
probably with the view of securing a better hold of the great English
working class and their extensive trade organizations, that the
president and secretary should be English working men, and then, after a
time, the office of president was abolished altogether because it had a
monarchical savour. But Marx had the ablest, the best informed, and
probably the most made-up mind in the council; he governed without
reigning; and, with his faithful German following, he exercised an
almost paramount influence on its action from first to last, in spite of
occasional revolts and intrigues against an authority which democratic
jealousy resented as dictatorial, or--worse still--monarchical. The
statutes of the association, which were adopted at the Geneva Congress
of 1866, declared that "the economic subjection of the labourer to the
possessor of the means of labour, _i.e._ of the sources of life, is the
first cause of his political, moral, and material servitude, and that
the economic emancipation of labour is consequently the great aim to
which every political movement ought to be subordinated." Now no doubt
the "economic emancipation of labour" meant different things to
different sections of the Association's members. To the English trades
unionists it meant practically better wages; to the Russian nihilists it
meant the downfall of the Czar and of all central political authority,
and leaving the socialistic communal organization of their country to
manage itself without interference from above; to some of the French
members (as appeared at the Lausanne Congress in 1867) it meant the
nationalization of credit and all land except that held by peasant
proprietors, a class which it was necessary to maintain as a
counterpoise to the State; while, to the German socialists, it meant the
abolition of wages, the nationalization of land and the instruments of
production, the assumption by the State of a supreme direction of all
trade, commerce, finance, and agriculture, and the distribution by the
State of land, tools, and materials to guilds and productive
associations as the actual industrial executive. There were thus very
different elements in the composition of the International, but a _modus
vivendi_ was found for some years by nursing an ultimate ideal, which
was desirable, and meanwhile practically working for a proximate and
much narrower ideal, which was more immediately feasible or necessary.
The association could thus hold that nothing could benefit the working
class but an abolition of wages, and could yet, as it sometimes did,
help and encourage strikes which wanted only to raise wages. At its
Congress in Brussels in 1868 it declared that a strike was not a means
of completely emancipating the labourers, but was often a necessity in
the present situation of labour and capital. Most of the other practical
measures to which the association addressed itself--the eight hours
normal day of labour, gratuitous education, gratuitous justice,
universal suffrage, abolition of standing armies, abolition of indirect
taxes, prohibition of children's labour, State credit for productive
associations--contemplated modifications of the existing system of
things, but always contemplated them as aids to and instalments of the
coming transformation of that system. The consciousness was constantly
preserved that a revolution was impending, and that, as Lassalle said,
it was bound to come and could not be checked, whether it approached by
sober advances from concession to concession, or flew, with streaming
hair and shod with steel, right into the central stronghold.

This was very much the keynote struck by Marx in his inaugural address.
That address was simply a review of the situation since 1848, and an
encouragement of his forces to a renewal of the combat. Wealth had
enormously increased in the interval; colonies had been opened, new
inventions discovered, free trade introduced; but misery was not a whit
the less; class contrasts were even deeper marked, property was more
than ever in the hands of the few; in England the number of landowners
had diminished eleven per cent. in the preceding ten years; and if this
rate were to continue, the country would be rapidly ripe for revolution.
While the old order of things was thus hastening to its doom, the new
order of things had made some advances. The Ten Hours Act was "not
merely a great practical result, but was the victory of a principle. For
the first time the political economy of the _bourgeoisie_ had been in
clear broad day put in subjection to the political economy of the
working class." Then, again, the experiment of co-operation had now been
sufficiently tried to show that it was possible to carry on industry
without the intervention of an employing class, and had spread abroad
the hope that wage labour was, like slavery and feudal servitude, only a
transitory and subordinate form, which was destined to be superseded by
associated labour. The International had for its aim to promote this
associated labour; only it sought to do so, not piecemeal and
sporadically, but systematically, on a national scale, and by State
means. And for this end the labouring class must first acquire political
power, so as to obtain possession of the means of production; and to
acquire political power, they must unite.

The International, though, as we have seen, possessing no real
solidarity in its composition, held together till the outbreak of the
Franco-German war, and of the revolution of the Paris Commune. It was,
of course, strongly opposed to the war, as it was to all war; and
strongly in favour of the revolution, as it was of all revolution. Its
precise complicity in the work of the Commune is not easy to determine,
but there can be no doubt that its importance has been greatly
exaggerated, both by the fears of his enemies and the vanity of its
members. Some of the latter were certainly among those who sat in the
Hôtel de Ville, but none of them were leading minds there; and, as for
the Association itself, it never had a real membership, or
ramifications, of any formidable extent. For example, the English trades
unions were in connection with it, and their members might be, in a
sense, counted among its members, but it is certain they never
recognised it as an authority over them, and they probably subscribed to
it mainly as to a useful auxiliary in a strike. The leaders of the
International, however, were, undoubtedly, heart and soul with the
Commune, and approved probably both of its aims and methods, and Marx,
at the Congress of the International, at the Hague, in 1872, drew, from
its failure the lesson, that "revolution must be solidary" in order to
succeed. A revolution in one capital of Europe must be supported by
simultaneous revolutions in the rest. But, while there is little ground
for the common belief that the International had any important influence
in creating the insurrection of the Commune, it is certain that the
insurrection of the Commune killed the International. The English
members dropped off from it and never returned, and at its first
Congress after the revolution (the Hague, 1872), the Association itself
was rent by a fatal schism arising from differences of opinion on a
question as to the government of the society of the future, which would
probably not have become a subject of such keen present interest at the
time but for the Paris Commune. The question concerned the maintenance
or abolition of the State, of the supreme central political authority,
and the discussion brought to light that the socialists of the
International were divided into two distinct and irreconcilable
camps--the Centralist Democratic Socialists, headed by Marx, and the
Anarchist Socialists, headed by Michael Bakunin, the Russian
revolutionist. The Marxists insisted that the socialist _régime_ of
collective property and systematic co-operative production could not
possibly be introduced, maintained, or regulated, except by means of an
omnipotent and centralized political authority--call it the State, call
it the collectivity, call it what you like--which should have the final
disposal of everything. The Bakunists held that this was just bringing
back the old tyranny and slavery in a more excessive and intolerable
form. They took up the tradition of Proudhon, who said that "the true
form of the State is anarchy," meaning by anarchy, of course, not
positive disorder, but the absence of any supreme ruler, whether king or
convention. They would have property possessed and industry pursued on a
communistic principle by groups or associations of workmen, but these
groups must form themselves freely and voluntarily, without any social
or political compulsion. The Marxists declared that this was simply a
retention of the system of free competition in an aggravated form, that
it would only lead to confusion worse confounded, and that the
Bakunists, even in trying to abolish the evils of _laissez-faire_, were
still foolishly supposing that the world could go of itself. This
division of opinion--really a broader one than that which parts
socialist from orthodox economist--rent the already enfeebled
International into two separate organizations, which languished for a
year or two and passed away. And so, with high thoughts of spreading a
reign of fraternity over the earth, the International Working Men's
Association perished, because, being only human, it could not maintain
fraternity in its own narrow borders. This is a history that repeats
itself again and again in socialist movements. As W. Marr said in the
remark quoted above, revolutionists will only unite on a negation; the
moment they begin to ask what they will put in its place they differ and
dispute and come to nought. Apprehend them, close their meetings, banish
their leaders, and you but knit them by common suffering to common
resistance. You supply them with a negation of engrossing interest, you
preoccupy their minds with a negative programme which keeps them united,
and so you prevent them from raising the fatal question--What next?
which they never discuss without breaking up into rival sects and
factions, fraternal often in nothing but their hatred. "It is the shades
that hate one another, not the colours." Such disruptions and secessions
may--as they did in Germany--by emulation increase for a time the
efficiency of the organization as a propagandist agency, but they
certainly diminish its danger as a possible instrument of insurrection.
A socialist organization seems always to contain two elements of
internal disintegration. One is the prevalence of a singular and almost
pathetic mistrust of their leaders, and of one another. The law of
suspects is always in force among themselves. At meetings of the German
Socialists, Liebknecht denounces Schweitzer as an agent of the Prussian
Government, Schweitzer accuses Liebknecht of being an Austrian spy, and
the frequent hints at bribery, and open charges of treason against the
labourers' cause, disclose to us now duller and now more acute phases of
that unhappy state of mutual suspicion, in which the one supreme,
superhuman virtue, worthy to be worshipped, if haply it could anywhere
be discovered, is the virtue men honoured even in Robespierre--the
incorruptible. The other source of disintegration is the tendency to
intestine divisions on points of doctrine. A reconstruction of society
is necessarily a most extensive programme, and allows room for the
utmost variety of opinion and plan. The longer it is discussed, the
more certainly do differences arise, and the movement becomes a strife
of schools in no way formidable to the government. All this only
furnishes another reason for the conclusion that in dealing with
socialist agitations, a government's safest as well as justest policy
is, as much as may be, to leave them alone. Their danger lies in the
cloudiness of their ideas, and that can only be dispersed in the free
breezes of popular discussion. The sword is an idle method of reasoning
with an idea; an idea will eventually yield to nothing but argument.
Repression, too, is absolutely impossible with modern facilities of
inter-communication, and can at best but drive the offensive elements
for a time into subterranean channels, where they gather like a
dangerous choke-damp that may occasion at any moment a serious

After the fall of the International, Marx took no further part in public
movements, but occupied his time in completing his work _Das Capital_,
under frequent interruption from ill-health, and he died in Paris in the
spring of 1883, leaving that work still unfinished.

The _Das Capital_ of Marx may be said to be the sacred book of
contemporary socialism, and though, like other sacred books, it is
probably a sealed one to the body of the faithful, for it is extremely
stiff reading, it is the great source from which socialist agitators
draw their inspiration and arguments. Apart from the representative
authority with which it is thus invested, it must be at once
acknowledged to be an able, learned, and important work, founded on
diligent research, evincing careful elaboration of materials, much
acuteness of logical analysis, and so much solicitude for precision that
a special terminology has been invented to secure it. The author's taste
for logical distinctions, however, as he has actually applied it, serves
rather to darken than to elucidate his exposition. He overloads with
analysis secondary points of his argument which are clear enough without
it, and he assumes without analysis primary positions which it is most
essential for him to make plain. His style and method carries us back to
the ecclesiastical schoolmen. His superabounding love of scholastic
formalities is unmodern; and one may be permitted to hope that the odium
more than theological with which he speaks of opponents has become
unmodern too.

Marx's argument takes the form of an inquiry into the origin and social
effects of capital; understanding the word capital, however, in a
peculiar sense. Capital, according to the elementary teaching of
political economy, always means the portion of wealth which is saved
from immediate consumption to be devoted to productive uses, and it
matters not whether it is so saved and devoted by the labourer who is to
use it, or by some other person who lends it to the labourer at interest
or employs the labourer to work with it at a fixed rate of wages. A
fisherman's boat is capital as much as a Cunard Company's steamer,
although the boat is owned by the person who sails it and the steamer by
persons who may never have seen it. The fisherman is labourer and
capitalist in one, but in the case of the steamer the capital is
supplied by one set of people and the labour undertaken by another. Now
Marx speaks of capital only after this division of functions has taken
place. It is, he says, not a logical but a historical category. In
former times men all wrought for the supply of their own wants, the seed
and stock they received was saved and owned by themselves, capital was
an instrument in the hands of labour. But in modern times, especially
since the rise of foreign commerce in the 16th century, this situation
has been gradually reversed. Industry is now conducted by speculators,
who advance the stock and pay the labourer's wages, in order to make
gain out of the excess of the product over the advances, and labour is a
mere instrument in the hands of capital. The capitalist is one who,
without being personally a producer, advances money to producers to
provide them with materials and tools, in the hope of getting a larger
sum of money in return, and capital is the money so advanced. With this
representation of capital as money, so long as it is but a popular form
of speech, no fault need be found, but Marx soon after falls into a
common fallacy and positively identifies capital with money, declaring
them to be only the same thing circulating in a different way. Money as
money, he says, being a mere medium of exchange, is a middle term
between two commodities which it helps to barter, and the order of
circulation is C--M--C, i.e. _commodity_ is converted into _money_ and
_money_ is reconverted into _commodity_. On the other hand, money as
capital stands at the two extremes, and commodity is a middle term, a
medium of converting one sum of money into another and greater; the
order of circulation being expressed as M--C--M. Of course capital, like
other wealth, may be expressed in terms of money, but to identify
capital with money in this way is only to introduce confusion, and the
real confusion is none the less pernicious that it presents itself under
an affectation of mathematical precision.

Capital, then, as Marx understands it, may be said to be independent
wealth employed or its own increase, and in "societies in which the
capitalistic method of production prevails" all wealth bears
distinctively this character. In more primitive days, wealth was a store
of means of life produced and preserved for the supply of the producer's
future wants, but now it "appears as a huge collection of wares," made
for other people's wants, made for sale in the market, made for its own
increase. What Marx wants to discover is how all this independent wealth
has come to accumulate in hands that do not produce it, and in
particular from whence comes the increase expected from its use, because
it is this increase that enables it to accumulate. What he endeavours to
show is that this increase of value cannot take place anywhere except in
the process of production, that in that process it cannot come from the
dead materials, but only from the living creative power of labour that
works upon them, and that it is accordingly virtually stolen from the
labourers who made it by the superior economic force of the owners of
the dead materials, without which indeed it could not be made, but whose
service is entitled to a much more limited reward.

No increase of value, he contends, can occur in the process of exchange,
for an exchange is a mere transposition of things of equal value. In one
sense both parties in the transaction are gainers, for each gets a thing
he wants for a thing he does not want. The usefulness of the two
commodities is thus increased by the exchange, but their value is not.
An exchange simply means that each party gives to the other equal value
for equal value, and even if it were possible for one of them to make a
gain in value to-day--to get a more valuable thing for a less valuable
thing--still, as all the world is buyer and seller in turn, they would
lose to-morrow as buyers what they gained to-day as sellers, and the old
level of value would be restored. No increase whatever would be
effected. There is indeed a class of people whom he describes as always
buying and never selling--the unproducing class who live on their money,
and who, he says, receive by legal titles or by force wealth made by
producers without giving anything in exchange for it. And it may be
supposed that perhaps value is created by selling things to this class
of persons, or by selling things to them above their true value, but
that is not so; you would have brought no new value into the world by
such a transaction, and even if you got more for your goods than their
worth, you would only be cheating back from these rich people part of
the money that they had previously received for nothing. Another
supposition remains. Perhaps new value is created in the process of
exchange when one dealer takes advantage of another--when Peter, say,
contrives to induce Paul to take £40 worth of wine for £50 worth of
iron. But in this case there has been no increase of value; the value
has merely changed hands; Peter has £10 more than he had before, and
Paul £10 less. The commodities have between them after the transaction,
as they had before it, a total value of £90, and that total cannot be
increased by a mere change of possessor.

Having thus established to his satisfaction that commerce, being only a
series of exchanges, cannot produce any increase of value, or what he
terms surplus value, Marx says that that only makes the problem of the
origin of surplus value more enigmatical than ever. For we are thus left
in presence of an apparent contradiction: surplus value cannot spring up
in the circulation of commodities because circulation is nothing but an
exchange of equivalents; and yet surplus value cannot spring up anywhere
except in circulation, because the class of persons who receive it and
live by it do not produce. Here, then, is a riddle, and Marx sets
himself to rede it. True, he says, value is not created directly in the
market, but a commodity is purchased in the market which has the
remarkable property of creating value. That commodity is the human
powers of labour. The very use of these powers, their consumption, their
expenditure, is the creation of value. But marvellous as they are, their
possessor is obliged to sell them, because while they are yielding their
product he must meanwhile live, and he sells a day's use of them for a
day's means of living. They create in a day far more than the value of
the wages for which they are bought. This excess is surplus value, and
is the secret and fountainhead of all accumulations of capital. Powers
which can create six shillings worth in a day may be procured in the
market for three shillings, because three shillings will pay for their
necessary maintenance. Surplus value is the difference between the value
of the labourer's necessary maintenance and the value of the labourer's
production, and it is in the present system entirely appropriated by the
dealer who advances him his wages.

Marx thus bases his argument on two principles which he borrows from
current economic writers, without, however, observing the limitations
under which those writers taught them, and introducing besides important
modifications of his own. The one principle is that value comes from
labour, or as economists stated their law, that the natural value of
commodities is determined by the cost of their production. The second is
only a special application of the first; that the natural wages of
labour are determined by the cost of its production, and that the cost
of the production of labour is the cost of the labourer's subsistence.
The fault he finds with the present system is accordingly this, that
while labour creates all value it is paid only by its stated living, no
matter how much value it creates; and he then goes over the phenomena of
modern industrial life to show how each arrangement is invented so as to
extract more and more value out of the labourer by prolonging his hours
of work or enhancing its speed without giving him any advantage whatever
from the increase of value so obtained. We shall get a fair view of
Marx's argument, therefore, if we follow it through the successive
heads: 1st, Value; 2nd, Wages; 3rd, Normal day of labour; 4th,
Machinery; 5th, Piecework; 6th, Relative over-population.

1st. _Value._ Marx holds that all capital--all industrial advances
except wages--is absolutely unproductive of value, and therefore not
entitled to the acknowledgment known as interest. The original value of
all such capital--the purchase price of the materials, together with a
certain allowance made for tear and wear of machinery--is carried
forward into the value of the product, and preserved in it, and even
that could not be done except by labour. The old value is preserved by
labour, and all new value is conferred by it, and therefore interest is
a consideration entirely out of the question. It is obvious to object
that labour by itself is as unproductive as capital by itself, but Marx
would reply that while labour and capital are equally indispensable to
produce new commodities, it is labour alone that produces new value, for
value is only so much labour preserved, it is merely a register of so
many hours of work. His whole argument thus turns upon his doctrine of
the nature of value, and that doctrine must therefore be closely
attended to.

What, then, is value? Marx considers that most errors on this subject
have arisen from confusing value with utility on the one hand or with
price on the other, and he regards his discrimination of value from
these two ideas as his most important contribution to political economy.
He takes his start from the distinction current since the days of Adam
Smith between value in use and value in exchange, and of course agrees
with Smith in making the value of a commodity in exchange to be
independent of its value in use. Water had great value in use and none
in exchange, and diamonds had great value in exchange and little in use.
Value in use is therefore not value strictly so called, it is utility;
but strictly speaking value in exchange, according to Marx, is not value
either, but only the form under which in our state of society value
manifests itself. There was no exchange in primitive society when every
family produced things to supply its own wants, and there would be no
exchange in a communism, for in an exchange the transacting parties
stand to one another equally as private proprietors of the goods they
barter. And where there was no exchange there could of course be no
exchange value. No doubt there was value for all that in primitive
times, and there would be value under a communism, though it would
manifest itself in a different form. But as we live in an exchanging
society, where everything is made for the purpose of being exchanged, it
is in exchange alone that we have any experience of value, and it is
only from an examination of the phenomena of exchange that we can learn
its nature.

What, then, is value in exchange? It is the ratio in which one kind of
useful commodity exchanges against another kind of useful commodity.
This ratio, says Marx, does not in the least depend on the usefulness of
the respective commodities, or their capacity of gratifying any
particular want. For, first, that is a matter of quality, whereas value
is a ratio between quantities; and second, two different kinds of
utility cannot be compared, for they have no common measure; but value,
being a ratio, implies comparison, and comparison implies a common
measure. A fiddle charms the musical taste, a loaf satisfies hunger, but
who can calculate how much musical gratification is equivalent to so
much satisfaction of hunger. The loaf and the fiddle may be compared in
value, but not by means of their several uses. Third, there are many
commodities which are useful and yet have no value in exchange: air, for
example, water, and, he adds, virgin soil. In seeking what in the
exchange the value depends on, we must therefore leave the utility of
the commodities exchanged entirely out of account; and if we do so,
there is only one other attribute they all possess in common, and it
must be on that attribute that their value rests. That attribute is that
they are all products of labour. While we looked to the utility of
commodities, they were infinite in their variety, but now they are all
reduced to one sober characteristic they are so many different
quantities of the same material, labour. Diversity vanishes; there are
no longer tables and chairs and houses, there is only this much and that
much and the next amount of preserved human labour. And this labour
itself is not discriminated. It is not joiner work, mason work, or
weaver work; it is merely human labour in the abstract, incorporated,
absorbed, congealed in exchangeable commodities. In an exchange
commodities are quantities of labour jelly, and they exchange in the
ratio of the amount of labour they have taken in.

Value, then, is quantity of abstract labour, and now what is quantity of
labour? How is it to be ascertained? Labour is the exertion or use of
man's natural powers of labour, and the quantity of labour is measured
by the duration of the exertion. Quantity of labour is thus reduced to
time of labour, and is measured by hours and days and weeks. Marx
accordingly defines value to be an immanent relation of a commodity to
time of labour, and the secret of exchange is that "a day's labour of
given length always turns out a product of the same value." Value is
thus something inherent in commodities before they are brought to
market, and is independent of the circumstances of the market.

Marx has no sooner reduced value to the single uniform element of time
of labour, and excluded from its constitution all considerations of
utility and the state of the market, than he reintroduces those
considerations under a disguised form. In the first place, if a day's
labour of given length always produces the same value, it is obvious to
ask whether then an indolent and unskilful tailor who takes a week to
make a coat has produced as much value as the more expert hand who turns
out six in this time, or, with the help of a machine, perhaps twenty?
Marx answers, Certainly not, for the time of labour which determines
value is not the time actually taken, but the time required in existing
social conditions to produce that particular kind of commodity--the time
taken by labour of average efficiency, using the means which the age
affords--in short, what he calls the socially necessary time of labour.
Value is an immanent relation to socially necessary time of labour.
Marx's standard is thus, after all, not one of quantity of labour pure
and simple; it takes into account, besides, the average productive power
of labour in different branches of industry. "The value of a commodity,"
says he, "changes directly as the quantity, and inversely as the
productive power, of the labour which realizes itself in that
commodity." Before we know the value of a commodity we must therefore
know not only the quantity of labour that has gone into it, but the
productive power of that labour. We gather the quantity from the
duration of exertion, but how is average productive power to be
ascertained? By simply ascertaining the total product of all the labour
engaged in a particular trade, and then striking the average for each
labourer. Diamonds occur rarely in the crust of the earth, and therefore
many seekers spend days and weeks without finding one. Hits and misses
must be taken together; the productive power of the diamond seeker is
low; or, in other words, the time of labour socially necessary to
procure a diamond is high, and its value corresponds. In a good year the
same labour will produce twice as much wheat as in a bad; its productive
power is greater; the time socially necessary to produce wheat is less,
and the price of the bushel falls. The value of a commodity is therefore
influenced by its comparative abundance, whether that be due to nature,
or to machinery, or to personal skill.

But, in the next place, if value is simply so much labour, it would seem
to follow, on the one hand, that nothing could have value which cost no
labour, and, on the other, that nothing could be devoid of value which
cost labour. Marx's method of dealing with these two objections deserves
close attention, because it is here that the fundamental fallacy of his
argument is brought most clearly out. He answers the first of them by
drawing a distinction between _value_ and _price_, which he and his
followers count of the highest consequence. Things which cost no labour
may have a _price_, but they have no _value_, and, as we have seen, he
mentions among such things conscience and virgin soil. No labour has
touched those things; they have no immanent relation to socially
necessary time of labour; they have not, and cannot have, any value, as
Marx understands value. But then, he says, they command a price. Virgin
soil is actually sold in the market; it may procure things that have
value though it has none itself. Now, this distinction between value and
price has no bearing on the matter at all, for the simple reason that,
as Marx himself admits, price is only a particular form of value. Price,
he says, is "the money form of value"; it is value expressed in money;
it is the exchange value of a commodity for money. To say that
uncultivated land may have a price but not a value is, on Marx's own
showing, to say that it has an exchange value which can be definitely
measured in money, and has yet no value. But he has started from the
phenomena of exchange; he has told us that exchange value is the only
form in which we experience value now; and he thus arrives at a theory
of value which will not explain the facts. If he argued that a thing had
value, but no exchange value, his position might be false, but he says
that a thing may have exchange value but no value, and so his position
is contradictory. Moreover, he describes money accurately enough as a
measure of value, and says that it could not serve this function except
it were itself valuable, _i.e._, unless it possessed the quality that
makes all objects commensurable, the quality of being a product of
labour. Yet here we find him admitting that virgin soil, which, _ex
hypothesi_, does not possess that quality, and ought therefore to be
incommensurable with anything that possesses it, is yet measured with
money every day. Such are some of the absurdities to which Marx is
reduced by refusing to admit that utility can confer value independently
of labour.

Let us see now how he deals with the other objection. If labour is just
value-forming substance, and if value is just preserved labour, then
nothing which has cost labour should be destitute of value. But Marx
frankly admits that there are such things which have yet got no value;
and they have no value, he explains, because they have no utility.
"Nothing can have value without being useful. If it is useless, the work
contained in it is useless, and therefore has no value." He goes
further; he says that a thing may be both useful and the product of
labour and yet have no value. "He who by the produce of his labour
satisfies wants of his own produces utility but not value. To produce a
ware, _i.e._, a thing which has not merely value in use, but value in
exchange, he must produce something which is not only useful to himself,
but useful to others," _i.e._, socially useful. A product of labour
which is useless to the producer and everybody else has no value of any
sort; a product of labour which, while useful to the producer, is
useless to any one else, has no exchange value. It satisfies no want of
others. This would seem to cover the case of over-production, when
commodities lose their value for a time because nobody wants them.
Lassalle explained this depreciation of value by saying that the time of
labour socially necessary to produce the articles in question had
diminished. Marx explains it by saying that the labour is less socially
useful or not socially useful at all. And why is the labour not socially
useful? Simply because the product is not so. The social utility or
inutility of the labour is a mere inference from the social utility or
inutility of the product, and it is therefore the latter consideration
that influences value. Marx tries in vain to exclude the influence of
that consideration, or to explain it as a mere subsidiary qualification
of labour. Labour and social utility both enter equally into the
constitution of value, and Marx's radical error lies in defining value
in terms of labour only, ignoring utility.

For what, after all, is value? Is Marx's definition of it in the least
correct? No. Value is not an inherent relation (whatever that may mean)
of a commodity to labour; it is essentially a social estimate of the
relative importance of commodities to the society that forms the
estimate. It is not an immanent property of an object at all; it is a
social opinion expressed upon an object in comparison with others. This
social opinion is at present collected in an informal but effective way,
through a certain subtle tact acquired in the market, by dealers
representing groups of customers on the one hand, and manufacturers
representing groups of producers on the other; and it may be said to be
pronounced in the verdict of exchange, _i.e._, according to Mill's
definition of value, in the quantity of one commodity given in exchange
for a given quantity of another. Now, on what does this social estimate
of the relative importance of commodities turn? In other words, by what
is value and difference in value determined? Value is constituted in
every object by its possession of two characteristics: 1st, that it is
socially useful; 2nd, that it costs some labour or trouble to procure
it. No commodity lacks value which possesses both of these
characteristics; and no commodity has value which lacks either of them.
Now there are two kinds of commodities. Some may be produced to an
indefinite amount by means of labour, and since all who desire them can
obtain them at any time for the labour they cost, their social
desirableness, their social utility, has no influence on their value,
which, therefore, always stands in the ratio of their cost of production
alone. Other classes of commodities cannot be in this way indefinitely
multiplied by labour; their quantity is strictly limited by natural or
other causes; those who desire them cannot get them for the mere labour
of producing them; and the value of commodities of this sort will
consequently always stand in excess of their relative cost of
production, and will be really determined by their relative social
utility. In fact, so far from the labour required for their production
being any guide to their value, it is their value that will determine
the amount of labour which will be ventured in their production. A
single word may be added in explanation of the conception of social
utility. Of course a commodity which is of no use to any one but its
owner has no economic value, unless it happens to get lost, and, in any
case, it is of no consequence in the present question. The social
utility of a commodity is its capacity to satisfy the wants of others
than the possessor, and it turns on two considerations: 1st, the
importance of the want the commodity satisfies, and, 2nd, the number of
persons who share the want. All commodities which derive a value from
their rarity or their special excellence belong to this latter class,
and the vice of Marx's theory of value is simply this, that he takes a
law which is true of the first class of commodities only to be true of
all classes of them.

2. _Wages._ Having concluded by the vicious argument now explained that
all value is the creation of the personal labour of the workman--is but
the registered duration of exertion of his labouring powers--Marx next
proceeds to show that, as things at present exist, the value of these
labouring powers themselves is fixed not by what they create but by what
is necessary to create or at least renovate them. The rate of wages,
economists have taught, is determined by the cost of the production of
labouring powers, and that is identical with the cost of maintaining the
labourer in working vigour. Marx accepts the usual explanations of the
elasticity of this standard of cost of subsistence. It includes, of
course, the maintenance of the labourer's family as well as his own,
because he will die some day, and the permanent reproduction of powers
of labour requires the birth of fresh hands to succeed him. It must also
cover the expenses of training and apprenticeship, and Marx would
probably agree to add, though he does not actually do so, a
superannuation allowance for old age. It contains, too, a variable
historical element, differs with climate and country, and is, in fact,
just the customary standard of living among free labourers of the time
and place. The value of a commodity is the time of labour required to
deliver it in _normal goodness_, and to preserve the powers of labour in
normal goodness a definite quantity of provisions and comforts is
necessary according to time, country, and customs. The part of the
labouring day required to produce this definite quantity of provisions
and comforts for the use of the day may be called the _necessary time of
labour_--the time during which the workman produces what is necessary
for keeping him in existence--and the value created in this season may
be called _necessary value_. But the workman's physical powers may hold
on labouring longer than this, and the rest of his working day may
accordingly be called _surplus time of labour_, and the value created in
it _surplus value_. This surplus value may be created or increased in
two ways: either by reducing or cheapening the labourer's subsistence,
_i.e._, by shortening the term of necessary labour; or by prolonging the
length of the working day, _i.e._, by increasing the term of surplus
labour. There are limits indeed within which this kind of action must
stop. The quantity of means of life cannot be reduced below the minimum
that is physically indispensable to sustain the labourer for the day,
and the term of labour cannot be stretched beyond the labourer's
capacity of physical endurance. But within these limits may be played an
important _rôle_, and the secret of surplus value lies in the simple
plan of giving the labourer as little as he is able to live on, and
working him as long as he is able to stand. A labourer works 12 hours a
day because he cannot work longer and work permanently and well, and he
gets three shillings a day of wages, because three shillings will buy
him the necessities he requires. In six hours' labour he will create
three shillings' worth of value, and he works the other six hours for
nothing, creating three shillings' worth of surplus value for the master
who advances him his wages. It is from these causes that we come on the
present system of things to the singular result that powers of labour
which create six shillings a day are themselves worth only three
shillings a day. This absurd conclusion, says Marx, could never have
held ground for an hour, had it not been hid and disguised by the
practice of paying wages in money. This makes it seem as if the labourer
were paid for the whole day when he is only paid for the half. Under the
old system of feudal servitude there were no such disguises. The
labourer wrought for his master one day, and for himself the other five,
and there was no make-believe as if he were working for himself all the
time. But the wages system gives to surplus labour that is really unpaid
the false appearance of being paid. That is the mystery of iniquity of
the whole system, the source of all prevailing legal conceptions of the
relation of employer and employed, and of all the illusions about
industrial freedom. The wages system is the lever of the labourer's
exploitation, because it enables the capitalist to appropriate the
entire surplus value created by the labourer--_i.e._, the value he
creates over and above what is necessary to recruit his labouring powers

Now surplus value, as we have seen, is of two kinds, absolute and
relative. Absolute surplus value is got by lengthening the term of
surplus labour; relative surplus value by shortening the term of
necessary labour, which is chiefly done by inventions that cheapen the
necessaries of life. The consideration of the first of these points
leads Marx into a discussion of the normal length of the day of labour;
and the consideration of the second into a discussion of the effects of
inventions and machinery on the condition of the working classes. We
shall follow him on these points in their order.

3. _Normal day of labour._ There is a normal length of the day of
labour, and it ought to be ascertained and fixed by law. Some bounds are
set to it by nature. There is a minimum length, for example, beneath
which it cannot fall; that minimal limit is the time required to create
an equivalent to the labourer's living; but as under the capitalistic
system the capitalist has also to be supported out of it, it can never
be actually shortened to this minimum. There is also a maximum length
above which it cannot rise, and this upper limit is fixed by two sorts
of considerations, one physical, the other moral. 1st. _Physical
limits._ These are set by the physical endurance of the labourer. The
day of labour cannot be protracted beyond the term within which the
labourer can go on from day to day in normal working condition to the
end of his normal labouring career. This is always looked to with
respect to a horse. He cannot be wrought more than eight hours a day
regularly without injury. 2nd. _Moral limits._ The labourer needs time
(which the horse does not, or he would perhaps get it) for political,
intellectual, and social wants, according to the degree required by
society at the time. Between the maximum and minimum limit there is,
however, considerable play-room, and therefore we find labouring days
prevailing of very different length, 8 hours, 10, 12, 14, 16, and even
18 hours. There is no principle in the existing industrial economy which
fixes the length of the day; it must be fixed by law on a sound view of
the requirements of the case. Marx pitches upon 8 hours as the best
limit, because it affords a security for the permanent physical
efficiency of the labourer, and gives him leisure for satisfying those
intellectual and social wants which are becoming every day more largely
imperative. He makes no use of the reason often urged for the 8 hours
day, that the increased intelligence it would tend to cultivate in the
working class would in many ways conduce to such an increase of
production as would justify the shorter term of work. But he is very
strong for the necessity of having it fixed by law, and points out that
even then employers will need to be carefully watched or they will find
ways and means of extending the day in spite of the law. When the day
was fixed in England at 10 hours in some branches of industry, some
masters gained an extra quarter or half-hour by taking five minutes off
each meal time, and the profit made in these five minutes was often very
considerable. He mentions a manufacturer who said to him, "If you allow
me ten minutes extra time every day, you put £1,000 a year into my
pocket," and he says that is a good demonstration of the origin of
surplus value, for how much of this £1,000 would be given to the man
whose extra ten minutes' labour had made it? Marx enters very fully into
the history of English factory legislation, acknowledges the great
benefit it has conferred both upon the labouring class and the
manufacturers, and says that since the Act of 1850 the cotton industry
has become the model industry of the country. As might be expected, he
thinks the gradual course taken by English legislation on the subject
much inferior, as a matter of principle, to the more revolutionary
method taken by France in 1848, when a twelve hours Act was introduced
simultaneously as a matter of principle for every trade in the whole
country; but he admits that the results were more permanent in England.

4. _Effects of machinery, and the growth of fixed capital on the working
classes._ The whole progress of industrial improvements is a history of
fresh creations of relative surplus value, and always for the benefit of
the capitalist who advances the money. Everything that economizes labour
or that adds positively to its productivity, contracts the labourer's
own part of the working day and prolongs the master's. Division and
subdivision of labour, combination, co-operation, organization,
inventions, machinery, are all "on the one hand elements of historical
progress and development in the economic civilization of society, but on
the other are all means of civilized and refined exploitation of the
labourer." They not only increase social wealth at his expense, but in
many cases they do him positive injury. These improvements have cost
capitalists nothing, though capitalists derive the whole advantage from
them. Subdivision, combination, organization, are simply natural
resources of social labour, and natural resources of any kind are not
produced by the capitalist. Inventions, again, are the work of science,
and science costs the capitalist nothing. Labour, association,
science--these are the sources of the increase; capital is nowhere, yet
it sits and seizes the whole. Machinery, of course, is capital, but then
Marx will not admit that it creates any value, and contends that it
merely transfers to the product the value it loses by tear and wear in
the process of production. The general effect of industrial
improvements, according to Marx, is--1st, to reduce wages; 2nd, to
prolong the day of labour; 3rd, to overwork one-half of the working
class; 4th, to throw the rest out of employ; and, 5th, to concentrate
the whole surplus return in the hands of a few capitalists who make
their gains by exploiting the labourers, and increase them by exploiting
one another. This last point we need not further explain, and the third
and fourth we shall unfold under the separate heads of Piecework and
Relative Over-population. The remaining two I shall take up now, and
state Marx's views about a little more fully.

(_a_). Industrial improvements tend to reduce wages. They do so, says
Marx, through first mutilating the labourer intellectually and
corporeally. As a result of subdivision of labour, workmen are rapidly
becoming mere one-sided specialists. Headwork is being separated more
and more from handwork in the labourer's occupation, and this
differentiation of function leads to a hierarchy of wages which affords
great opportunity for exploiting the labourer. Muscular power is more
easily dispensed with than formerly, and so the cheaper labour of women
and children is largely superseding the dearer labour of men. If this
goes on much further, the manufacturer will get the labour of a whole
family for the wages he used to pay to its head alone, and the labourer
will be converted into a slave-dealer who sells his wife and children
instead of his own labour. That this kind of slavery will find no sort
of resistance from either master or labourer, is to Marx's mind placed
beyond doubt by the fact that though the labour of children under 13
years of age is restricted in English factories, advertisements appear
in public prints for "children that can pass for 13."

(_b_). Industrial improvements tend to lengthen the day of labour.
Machinery can go on for ever, and it is the interest of the capitalist
to make it do so. He finds, moreover, a ready and specious pretext in
the greater lightness of the work as compared with hand labour, for
keeping the labourer employed beyond the normal limits of human
endurance. Capitalists always complain that long hours are a necessity
in consequence of the increasing extent of fixed capital which cannot
otherwise be made to pay. But this is a mistake on their part, says
Marx. For, according to the factory inspector's reports, shortening the
day of labour to 10 hours has increased production and not diminished
it, and the explanation is that the men can work harder while they are
at it, if the duration of their labour is shortened. Shortening the day
of labour has not only increased production, but actually increased
wages. Mr. Redgrave, in his Report for 1860, says that during the period
1839-1859 wages rose in the branches of industry that adopted the ten
hours' principle, and fell in trades where men wrought 14 and 15 hours a
day. Small wages and long hours are always found to go together, because
the same causes which enable the employer to reduce wages enable him to
lengthen the labouring day.

5. _Piecework._ Industrial improvements tend, Marx maintains, to
overwork, to undue intensification of labour, for machinery can go at
almost any rate all day and all night, and labourers are compelled by
various expedients to work up to it. Among these expedients none is more
strongly condemned by Marx than piecework, as encouraging over-exertion
and overtime. He says that though known so early as the 14th century,
piecework only came into vogue with the large system of production, to
which he thinks it the most suitable form of payment. He states (though
this is not quite accurate) that it is the only form of payment in use
in workshops that are under the factory acts, because in these workshops
the day of labour cannot be lengthened, and the capitalist has no other
way open to him of exploiting the labourer but by increasing the
intensity of the labour. He ridicules the idea of a writer who thought
"the system of piecework marked an epoch in the history of the working
man, because it stood halfway between the position of a mere wage
labourer depending on the will of the capitalist and the position of the
co-operative artisan who in the not distant future promises to combine
the artisan and the capitalist in his own person." Better far, he holds,
for the labourer to stick to day's wages, for he can be much more easily
and extensively exploited by the piece system. He contends that
experience has proved this in trades like the compositors and ship
carpenters, in which both systems of payment are in operation side by
side, and he cites from the factory inspectors' reports of 1860 the case
of a factory employing 400 hands, 200 paid by the piece and 200 by the
day. The piece hands had an interest in working overtime, and the day
hands were obliged to follow suit without receiving a farthing extra for
the additional hour or half-hour. This might be stopped by further
legislation, but then Marx holds that the system of piece payment is so
prone to abuse that when one door of exploitation shuts another only
opens, and legislation will always remain ineffectual. Every peculiarity
of the system furnishes opportunity either for reducing wages or
increasing work. On the piece system the worth of labour is determined
by the worth of the work it does, and unless the work possess average
excellence the stipulated price is withheld. There is thus always a
specious pretext ready to the employer's hand for making deductions from
wages on the ground that the work done did not come up to the stipulated
standard. Then again, it furnishes the employer with a definite measure
for the intensity of labour. He judges from the results of piecework how
much time it generally takes to produce a particular piece, and
labourers who do not possess the average productivity are turned off on
the ground that they are unable to do a minimum day's work. Even those
who are kept on get lower average wages than they would on the day
system. The superior workman earns indeed better pay working by the
piece, but the general body do not. The superior workman can afford to
take a smaller price per piece than the others, because he turns out a
greater number of pieces in the same time, and the employer fixes, from
the case of the superior workman, a standard of payment which is
injurious to the rest. In the end a change from day's wages to piece
wages will thus be found to have merely resulted in the average labourer
working harder for the same money. Marx, however, admits that when a
definite scale of prices has been in long use and has become fixed as a
custom, there are so many difficulties to its reduction that employers
are obliged, when they seek to reduce it, to resort to violent methods
of transforming it into time wages again. He gives an example of this
from the strike of the Coventry ribbon-weavers in 1860, in resistance to
a transformation of this kind.

These are only some of the evils Marx lays at the door of piecework; he
has many more charges. From rendering the superintendence of labour
unnecessary, it leads to abuses like the sub-contracts known in this
country as "the sweating system," or what is a variety of the same, to
contracts of the employer with his manager, whereby the latter becomes
responsible for the whole work, and employs and pays the men. From
making it the pecuniary interest of the labourer to work overtime,
piecework induces him to overstrain his powers, and both to transgress
the legal or normal limits of the day of labour, and to raise or exceed
the normal degree of the intensity of labour. Marx, quoting from
Dunning, says that it was customary in the engineering trade in London
for employers to engage a foreman of exceptional physical powers, and
pay him an extra salary per quarter to keep the men up to his own pace;
an expedient which, he adds, is actually recommended to farmers by
Morton in his "Agricultural Encyclopædia." He attributes to piecework,
especially in its operation on women and children, the degeneration of
the labouring class in the potteries, which is shown in the Report of
the Commission on the Employment of Children. But while Marx thus
objects to piecework because it leads to overwork, he objects to it also
because it leads to underwork. It enables employers to engage more hands
than they require, when they entertain perhaps only an imaginary
expectation of work, for they know they run no risk, since paying by the
piece they pay only for what is done. The men are thus imperfectly
employed and insufficiently paid.

6. _Relative Over-population._ One of the worst features of modern
industrial development is the vast number of labourers whom it
constantly leaves out of employ. This Marx calls relative
over-population. Of absolute over-population he has no fear. He is not a
Malthusian. He holds that there is no population law applicable to all
countries and times alike. Social organisms differ from one another as
do animals and plants; they have different laws and conditions. Every
country and age has its own law of population. A constant and
increasing over-population is a characteristic of the present age; it is
a necessary consequence of the existing method of carrying on industry;
but it is nothing in the nature of an absolute over-growth; it is only,
to Marx's thinking, a relative superfluity. There is plenty of work for
all, more than plenty. If those who have employment were not allowed to
be overwrought, and if work were to-morrow to be limited to its due
amount for every one according to age and sex, the existing working
population would be quite insufficient to carry on the national
production to its present extent. Even in England, where the technical
means of saving labour are enormous, this could not be done except by
converting most of our present "unproductive" labourers into productive.
There is therefore, Marx conceives, no reason why any one should be out
of work; but at present, what with the introduction of new machinery,
the industrial cycles, the commercial crises, the changes of fashion,
the transitions of every kind, we have always, besides the industrial
army in actual service, a vast industrial reserve who are either
entirely out of employment or very inadequately employed. This relative
over-population is an inevitable consequence of the capitalistic
management of industry, which first compels one-half of the labouring
community to do the work of all, and then makes use of the redundancy of
labour so created to compel the working half to take less pay. Low wages
spring from the excessive competition among labourers caused by this
relative over-population. "Rises and falls in the rate of wages are
universally regulated by extensions and contractions in the industrial
reserve army which correspond with changes in the industrial cycle. They
are not determined by changes in the absolute number of the labouring
population, but through changes in the relative distribution of the
working class into active army and reserve army--through increase or
decrease in the relative numbers of the surplus population--through the
degree in which it is at one time absorbed and at another dismissed."
The fluctuations in the rate of wages are thus traced to expansions or
contractions of capital, and not to variation in the state of
population. Marx ridicules the theory of these fluctuations given by
political economists, that high wages lead to their own fall by
encouraging marriages, and so in the end increasing the supply of
labour, and that low wages lead to their own rise by discouraging
marriages and reducing the supply of labour. That, says Marx, is very
fine, but before high wages could have produced a redundant population
(which would take eighteen years to grow up), wages would, with modern
industrial cycles, have been up, down, and up again through ordinary
fluctuations of trade.

Relative over-population is of three kinds: current, latent, and
stagnant. Current over-population is what comes from incidental causes,
the ordinary changes that take place in the every-day course of
industry. A trade is slack this season and brisk the next, has perhaps
its own seasons, like house-painting in spring, posting in summer. Or
one trade may from temporary reasons be busy, while others are
depressed. In the last half year of 1860 there were 90,000 labourers in
London out of employment, and yet the factory inspectors report that at
that very time much machinery was standing idle for want of hands. This
comes from the labourer being mutilated--that is, specialized--under
modern subdivision of labour, and fit for only a single narrow craft.
Another current cause of over-population is that under the stress of
modern labour the workman is old before his years, and while still in
middle life becomes unfit for full work, and passes into the reserve.
Marx says this is the real reason for the prevalence of early marriages
among the working class. They are generally condemned for being
improvident, but they are really resorted to from considerations of
providence, for working men foresee that they will be prematurely
disabled for work, and desire, when that day comes, to have grown-up
children about them who shall be able to support them. Other current
causes are new inventions and new fashions, which always throw numbers
out of work. Latent over-population is what springs from causes whose
operation is long and slow. The best example of it is the case of the
agricultural labourers. They are being gradually superseded by
machinery, and as they lose work in the country they gather to the towns
to swell the reserve army there. A great part of the farm servants are
always in this process of transition, a few here, and a few there, and a
few everywhere. The constancy of this flow indicates a latent
over-population in the rural districts, and that is the cause of the low
wages of agricultural labourers. By stagnant over-population Marx means
that which is shown in certain branches of industry, where none of the
workmen are thrown back entirely into the reserve, but none get full
regular employment.



Marlo and Rodbertus are sometimes spoken of as the precursors of German
socialism. This, however, is a mistake. The socialism which now exists
appeared in Germany among the Young Hegelians forty years ago, before
the writings of either of these economists were published, and their
writings have had very little influence on the present movement.
Rodbertus, it is true, communicated a decided impulse to Lassalle, both
by his published letter to Von Kirchmann in 1853, and by personal
correspondence subsequently. He was a landed proprietor of strongly
liberal opinions, who was appointed Minister of Agriculture in Prussia
in 1848, but after a brief period of office retired to his estates, and
devoted himself to economic and historical study. He took a very decided
view of the defects of the existing industrial system, and held in
particular that, in accordance with Ricardo's law of necessary wages,
the labourer's income could never rise permanently above the level of
supplying him with a bare subsistence, and consequently that, while his
labour was always increasing in productivity, through mechanical
inventions and other means, the share which he obtained of the product
was always decreasing. What was required was simply to get this tendency
counteracted, and to devise arrangements by which the labourer's share
in the product might increase proportionally with the product itself,
for otherwise the whole working population would be left behind by the
general advancement of society. The remedy, he conceives, must lie in
the line of a fresh contraction of the sphere of private property. That
sphere had been again and again contracted in the interests of personal
development, and it must be so once more. And the contraction that was
now necessary was to leave nothing whatever in the nature of private
property except income. This proposal is substantially identical with
the scheme of the socialists; it is just the nationalization of all
permanent stock; but then he holds that it could not be satisfactorily
carried out in less than five hundred years. Rodbertus's writings have
never been widely known, but they attracted some attention among the
German working class, and he was invited, along with Lassalle and Lothar
Bucher, to address the Working Men's Congress in Leipzig in 1863. He
promised to come and speak on the law of necessary wages, but the
Congress was never held in consequence of the action of Lassalle in
precipitating his own movement, and from that movement Rodbertus held
entirely aloof. He agreed with Lassalle's complaints against the present
order of things, but he disapproved of his plan of reform. He did not
think the scheme of founding productive associations on State credit
either feasible or desirable, and he would still retain the system of
wages, though with certain improvements introduced by law. He thought,
moreover, that Lassalle erred gravely in making the socialists a
political party, and that they should have remained a purely economic
one. Besides, he looked on it as mere folly to expect, with Lassalle,
the accomplishment in thirty years of changes which, as we have seen, he
believed five centuries little enough time to evolve.

Rodbertus may thus be said to have had some relations with the present
movement, but Marlo stands completely apart from it: and his large and
important work, "Untersuchungen über die Organization der Arbeit, oder
System der Weltökonomie," published at Kassel in 1850-5--though
original, learned, and lucid--remained so absolutely unknown that none
of the lexicons mention his name, and even an economist like
Schaeffle--who was the first to draw public attention to it, and has
evidently been considerably influenced by it himself--had never read it
till he was writing his own work on socialism (1870). But though Marlo
cannot be said to have contributed in any respect to the present
socialistic movement, his work deserves attentive consideration as a
plea for fundamental social reform, advanced by a detached and
independent thinker, who has given years of patient study to the
phenomena of modern economic life, and holds them to indicate the
presence of a deep-seated and widespread social disease. Carl Marlo is
the _nom de plume_ of a German professor of chemistry named Winkelblech,
and he gives us in the preface to his second volume a touching account
of how he came to apply himself to social questions. In 1843 he made a
tour of investigation through Northern Europe in connection with a
technological work he was engaged in writing, and visited among other
places the blue factory of Modum, in Norway, where he remained some
days, charmed with the scenery, which he thought equal to that of the
finest valleys of the Alps. One morning he went up to a neighbouring
height, whence he could see the whole valley, and was calmly enjoying
the view when a German artisan came to ask him to undertake some
commission to friends in the fatherland. They engaged in conversation.
The artisan went over his experiences, and repeated all the privations
he and his fellows had to endure. His tale of sorrow, so alien
apparently to the ravishing beauty around, made a profound impression on
Winkelblech, and altered the purpose and work of his life. "What is the
reason," he asked himself, "that the paradise before my eyes conceals so
much misery? Is nature the source of all this suffering, or is it man
that is to blame for it? I had before, like so many men of science,
looked, while in workshops, only on the forges and the machinery, not on
the men--on the products of human industry, and not on the producers,
and I was quite a stranger to this great empire of misery that lies at
the foundation of our boasted civilization. The touching words of the
artisan made me feel the nullity of my scientific work and life in its
whole extent, and from that moment I resolved to make the sufferings of
our race, with their causes and remedies, the subject of my studies." He
pursued these studies with the greatest industry for several years, and
found the extent of men's sufferings to be greatly beyond his
expectation. Poverty prevailed everywhere--among labourers and among
employers, too--with peoples of the highest industrial development, and
with peoples of the lowest--in luxurious cities, and in the huts of
villagers--in the rich plains of Lombardy, no less than the sterile
wilds of Scandinavia. He arrived at the conclusion that the causes of
all this lay not in nature, but in the fact that human institutions
rested on false economic foundations, and he held the only possible
remedy to consist in improving these institutions. He became convinced
that technical perfection of production, however great, would never be
able to extinguish poverty or lead to the diffusion of general comfort,
and that civilization was now come to a stage in its development at
which further progress depended entirely on the advancement of political
economy. Political economy was, therefore, for our time the most
important of all sciences, and Winkelblech now determined to give
himself thoroughly to its study. Hitherto he had not done so. "During
the progress of my investigations," he says, "the doctrines of
economists, as well as the theories of socialists, remained almost
unknown to me except in name, for I intentionally abstained from seeking
any knowledge of either, in order that I might keep myself as free as
possible from extraneous influences. It was only after I arrived at the
results described that I set myself to a study of economic literature,
and came to perceive that the substance of my thoughts, though many of
them were not new, and stood in need of correction, departed completely
from the accepted principles of the science." He reached the conclusion
that there prevailed everywhere the symptoms of a universal social
disease, and that political economy was the only physician that could
cure it; but that the prevailing system of economy was quite incompetent
for that task, and that a new system was urgently and indispensably
required. To set forth such a system is the aim of his book. He derides
Proudhon's idea of social reforms coming of themselves without design,
and argues strongly that no reform worthy the name can ever be expected
except as the fruit of economic researches. He agrees with the
Socialists in so far as they seek to devise a new economic system, but
he thinks they make a defective diagnosis of the disease, and propose an
utterly inadequate remedy. He counts them entirely mistaken in
attributing all existing evils to the unequal distribution of wealth, a
deficiency of production being, in his opinion, a much more important
source of misery than any error of distribution. In fact, his
fundamental objection to the existing distribution is that it is not the
distribution which conduces to the highest production, or to the most
fruitful use of the natural resources at the command of society. He
differs from the German socialists in always looking at the question
from the standpoint of society in general, rather than from that of the
proletariat alone, and he maintains that a new organization of labour is
even more necessary for the interest of the capitalists than for that of
the labourers, because he believes the present system will infallibly
lead, unless amended, to the overthrow of the capitalist class, and the
introduction of communism. His point of view is moreover purely economic
and scientific, entirely free from all partizan admixture, and while he
declares himself to be a zealous member of the republican party, he says
that he purposely abstains from intervention in politics because he
regards the political question as one of very minor rank, and holds
that, with sound social arrangements, people could live more happily
under the Russian autocracy than, with unsound ones, they could do under
the French republic. The organization of labour is, in his opinion,
something quite independent of the form of the State, and its final aim
ought to be to produce the amount of wealth necessary to diffuse
universal comfort among the whole population without robbing the middle
classes. These characteristics sufficiently separate him from the
socialist democrats of the present day.

His book was published gradually in parts, sometimes after long
intervals, between 1848 and 1856, and it was finally interrupted by his
death in 1865. A second edition appeared in 1885, containing some
additions from his manuscripts, but the work remains incomplete. It was
to have consisted of three parts; 1st, a historical part, containing an
exposition and estimate of the various economic systems; 2nd, an
elementary or doctrinal part, containing an exposition of the principles
of economic science; and, 3rd, a practical part, explaining his plan for
the organization of labour. The first two parts are all we possess; the
third, and most important, never appeared, which must be regretted by
all who recognise the evidences of original power and singular candour
that the other parts present.

Marlo's account of the social problem is that it arises from the fact
that our present industrial organization is not in correspondence with
the idea of right which is recognised by the public opinion of the time.
That idea of right is the Christian one, which takes its stand on the
dignity of manhood, and declares that all men, simply because they are
men, have equal rights to the greatest possible happiness. Up till the
French Revolution, the idea of right that prevailed was the heathen one,
which might be called the divine right of the stronger. The weak might
be made a slave without wrong. He might be treated as a thing and not as
a person or an equal, who had the same right with his master or his
feudal superior to the greatest possible enjoyment. Nature belonged to
the conqueror, and his dominion was transmitted by privilege. Inequality
of right was therefore the characteristic of this period; Marlo calls it
monopolism. But at the French Revolution the Christian idea of right
rose to its due ascendancy over opinion, and the sentiments of love and
justice began to assume a control over public arrangements. Do as you
would be done by, became a rule for politics as well as for private
life, and the weak were supported against the strong. Equality of right
was the mark of the new period; Marlo calls it panpolism. This idea
could not be realized before the present day, because it had never
before taken possession of the public mind, but it has done this now so
thoroughly that it cannot be expected to rest till it has realized
itself in every direction in all the practical applications of which it
is susceptible. The final arbiter of institutions is always the
conception of right prevailing at the time; contemporary industrial
arrangements are out of harmony with the contemporary conception of
right; and stability cannot be looked for until this disturbance is
completely adjusted.

Now the first attempts that society made to effect this adjustment were
not unnaturally attended with imperfection. In the warmth of their
recoil from the evils of monopolism, men ran into extreme and distorted
embodiments of the opposite principle, and they ran contrary ways. These
contrary ways are Liberalism and Communism. Liberalism fixed its
attention mainly on the artificial restrictions, the privileges, the
services, the legal bonds by which monopoly and inequality were kept
up, and it thought a perfect state of society would be brought about if
only every chain were snapped and every fetter stripped away. It
conceived the road to the greatest possible happiness for every man was
the greatest possible freedom; it idolized the principle of abstract
liberty, and it fancied if evil did not disappear, it was always because
something still remained that needed emancipation. Communism, on the
other hand, kept its eyes on the inequalities of monopolistic society;
imagined the true road to the greatest possible happiness was the
greatest possible equality; that all ills would vanish as soon as things
were levelled enough; in short, it idolized the principle of abstract
equality. Modern Liberalism and modern Communism are therefore of equal
birth; they have the same historical origin in the triumph of the
principle of equality of right in 1789; they are only different modes of
attempting to reduce that principle to practice; and Liberalism happens
to be the more widely disseminated of the two, not because it represents
that principle better, but merely because being more purely negative
than the other, it was easier of introduction, and so got the start of
Communism in the struggle of existence. According to Marlo, they are
both equally bad representatives of the principle, and their chief good
lies in their mutual criticism, by means of which they prepare the way
for the true system, the system of Federalism, which will be presently
explained. The history of revolution, he says, begins in the victory of
Liberalism and Communism together over Monopolism; it proceeds by the
conflict of the victors with one another, and it ends in the final
triumph of Federalism over both.

Marlo next criticises the two systems of Liberalism and Communism with
considerable acuteness. Both the one and the other are utopias; they are
absorbed in realizing an abstract principle, and they, as a matter of
fact, produce exactly the opposite of what they aim at. Communism seeks
to reach the greatest possible happiness by introducing first the
greatest possible equality. But what is equality? Is it equality when
each man gets a coat of the same size, or is it not rather when each man
gets a coat that fits him? Some communists would accept the former
alternative. They would measure off the same length to the dwarf and
the giant, to the ploughman and the judge, to the family of three and
the family of thirteen. But this would be clearly not equality, but only
inequality of a more vicious and vexatious kind. Most communists,
however, prefer the second alternative, and assign to every man
according to his needs, to every man the coat that fits him. But then we
must first have the cloth, and that is only got by labour, and every
labourer ought if possible to produce his own coat. The motive to
labour, however, is weakened on the communistic system; and if those who
work less are to be treated exactly like those who work more, then that
would be no abolition of monopoly, but merely the invention of a new
monopoly, the monopoly of indolence and incapacity. The skilful and
industrious would be exploited by the stupid and lazy. Besides,
production would for the same reason, insufficient inducement to labour,
be diminished, progress would be stopped, and therefore the average of
human happiness would decline. Communism thus conducts to the opposite
of everything it seeks. It seeks equality, it ends in inequality; it
seeks the abolition of monopoly, it creates a new monopoly; it seeks to
increase happiness, it actually diminishes it. It is a pure utopia, and
why? Because it misunderstands its own principle. Equality does not mean
giving equal things to every man; it means merely affording the greatest
possible playroom for the development of every personality, and that is
exactly the principle of freedom. The greatest possible equality and the
greatest possible freedom can only be realized together; they must
spring out of the same conditions, and a system of right which shall
adjust these conditions is just what is now wanted.

Liberalism is a failure from like causes. It seeks to realize happiness
by freedom; it realizes neither. For it mistakes the nature of freedom,
as the Communists mistake the nature of equality. It takes freedom to be
the power of doing what one likes, instead of being the power of doing
what is right. Its whole bent is to exempt as much as possible of life
from authoritative restraint, and to give as much scope as exigencies
will allow to the play of individuality. It is based on no positive
conception of right whatever, and looks on the State as an alien whose
interference is something exceptional, only justified on occasional
grounds of public necessity or general utility. It fails to see that
there are really no affairs in a community which are out of relation to
the general wellbeing, and destitute of political significance. Nothing
demonstrates the error of this better than the effects of the Liberal
_régime_ itself. For half a century the industrial concerns of the
people have been treated as matters of purely private interest, and this
policy has resulted in a political as well as economical revolution.
Industrial freedom, which has produced capitalism in the economic field,
has resulted in political life in the ascendancy of a new class, a
plutocracy, "the worst masters," said De Tocqueville, "the world has yet
seen, though their reign will be short." The change which was effected
by the legislation of the Revolution was not a development of a fourth
estate, as is sometimes said; it was really nothing more than the
creation of a money aristocracy, and the putting of them in the place of
the old hereditary nobility. The system of industrial right that happens
to prevail, therefore, so far from being, as Liberals fancy, outside the
sphere of political interest, is in truth the very element on which the
distribution of political power, in the last analysis, depends. Nothing
is more political than the social question. Liberals think slight of
that question, but it is, says Marlo, the real question of the day, and
it is neither more nor less than the question of the existence or
abolition of Liberalism, the question of the maintenance or subversion
of the principle of industrial freedom, the question of the ascendancy
or overthrow of a money aristocracy. The fight of our age is a fight
against a plutocracy bred of Liberalism. It is not, as some represent
it, a struggle of labourers against employers; it is a joint struggle of
labourers and lower _bourgeoisie_ against the higher _bourgeoisie_, a
struggle of those who work and produce against those who luxuriate idly
on the fruits of others' labour. As compared with this question,
constitutional questions are of very minor importance, for no matter
whether the State be monarchy or republic, if the system of industrial
right that prevails in it be the system of industrial freedom, the real
power of the country will be in the hands of the capitalist class. He
who fails to see this, says Marlo, fails to understand the spirit of
his time. It is always the national idea of right that governs both in
social and political relations, and as long as the national idea of
right is that of Liberalism, we shall continue to have capitalism and a
plutocracy. It is the mind that builds the body up, and it is only when
a new system of right has taken as complete possession of the national
consciousness as Liberalism did in 1789, that the present social
conflict will cease and a better order of things come in.

From want of such a system of right--from want even of seeing the
necessity for it, Liberalism has defeated its own purpose. It sought to
abolish monopoly; it has only substituted for the old monopoly of birth
the more grievous monopoly of wealth. It sought to establish freedom; it
has only established plutocratic tyranny. It has erred because it took
for freedom an abstraction of its own and tried to realize that, just as
Communism erred by taking for equality an abstraction of its own and
trying to realize that. The most perfect state of freedom is not reached
when every man has the power of doing what he likes, any more than the
most perfect state of equality is reached when every man has equal
things with every other; but the greatest possible freedom is attained
in a condition of society where every man has the greatest possible
play-room for the development of his personality, and the greatest
possible equality is attained in exactly the same state of things. Real
freedom and real equality are in fact identical. Every right contains
from the first a social element as well as an individual element, and it
cannot be realized in the actual world without observing a due
adjustment between these two elements. Such an adjustment can only be
discovered by a critical examination of the economic constitution of
society, and must then be expressed in a distinct system of industrial
right, which imposes on individual action its just limits. True liberty
is liberty within these limits; and the true right of property is a
right of property under the same conditions. The fundamental fault of
Liberalism, the cause of its failure, is simply that it goes to work
without a sound theory of right, or rather perhaps without any clear
theory at all, and merely aims at letting every one do as he likes,
with the understanding that the State can always be called in to
correct accidents and excesses.

This defect is what Federalism claims to supply. It claims to be the
only theory that abandons abstractions and keeps closely to the nature
of things, and therefore to be the only theory that is able to realize
even approximately the Christian principle of equality of right. The
name furnishes no very precise clue to the conclusion it designates, and
it has no reference to the federative form of State, for which Marlo
expressly disavows having any partiality. He has chosen the word merely
to indicate the fact that society is an organic confederation of many
different kinds of associations--families, churches, academies,
mercantile companies, and so on; that association is not only a natural
form, but the natural form in which man's activity tends to be carried
on; and that in any sound system of industrial right this must be
recognised by an extension of the collective form of property and the
co-operative form of production. Communism, says Marlo, is mechanical,
Liberalism is atomistic, but Federalism is organic. When he
distinguishes his theory from communism, it must be remembered that it
is from the communism which he has criticised, and which he would prefer
to denominate Equalism; it is from the communism of Baboeuf, which would
out of hand give every man according to his needs, and would
consequently, through impairing the motives to industry, leave those
needs themselves in the long run less satisfactorily provided for than
they are now. But his system is nearly identical with the communism of
the Young Hegelians of his own time--that is, with the German socialism
of the present day--although he arrived at it in entire independence of
their agitations, and builds it on deductions peculiar to himself. Like
them, he asks for the compulsory transformation of land and the
instruments of production from private property into collective
property; like them, he asks for this on grounds of social justice, as
the necessary mechanism for giving effect to positive rights that are
set aside under the present system; and he says himself, "If you ask the
question, how is the democratic social republic related to Federalism,
the most suitable answer is, as the riddle to its solution."

He starts from the position that all men have equally the right to
property. Not merely in the sense, which is commonly acknowledged, that
they have the right to property if they have the opportunity of
acquiring it; but in the further significance, that they have a right to
the opportunity. They are in fact born proprietors--_de jure_ at least,
and they are so for two reasons. First, God has made them persons, and
not things, and they have, therefore, all equally a natural right to
their amplest personal development. If society interferes with this
liberty of personal development--if it suffers any of its members to
become the slaves of others, for example--it robs them of original
rights which belong to them by the mere fact of their manhood. But,
secondly, property, resources of some sort, being indispensable means of
personal development, God, who has imposed the end, has supplied the
means. He has given nature, the earth and the lower creation, into the
dominion of man, not of this or that man, or class of men, but of
mankind, and consequently every man has, equally with every other, a
right to participate in the dominion of nature, a right to use its
bounty to the extent required for his personal development. No
appropriation of nature can be just which excludes this possibility and
robs any man of this natural right. It is, therefore, wrong to allow to
any single person, or to any limited number of persons, an absolute
dominion over natural resources in which everybody else has, by nature,
a right to some extent to share. He who should have complete and
exclusive lordship over all nature, would be lord and master of all his
fellow-men, and in a period after natural agents are all appropriated
the system of complete and absolute property leaves the new-comers at
the mercy of those who are already in possession. They can only work if
the latter give them the productive instruments; they can only reap from
their work so much of its fruits as the latter are pleased to leave with
them; and they must perish altogether unless the latter employ them.
They are slaves, they are beggars; and yet they came into the world with
the rights of a proprietor, of which they can never be divested. Nature
laid covers for them as well as for the rest, and a system of property
is essentially unjust which ousts them from their seat at her table.
The common theory of property starts from the premiss, that all men have
the right to property, and draws the conclusion, that, therefore, some
men have the right to monopolize it. As usually understood, the
proprietary right is as much a right of robbery as a right of property,
and Proudhon would have been quite correct in describing property as
theft, if no better system of property could be devised than the

But such a system can be devised; one under which the right of
new-comers may be respected without disturbing those of possessors. This
can only be done by putting entirely aside the complete and absolute
form of property which is in so much favour with Liberalism, and by
making the right of property in any actual possession a strictly limited
and circumscribed right from the first--the right not to an arbitrary
control over a thing, but to a just control over it. So long as property
is always thought of as an arbitrary and absolute dominion over a thing,
the proprietary right cannot possibly be explained in a way that does
not make it a right given to some to rob others. Why not, therefore,
define property from the beginning as subject to limitations, and
contrive a new form or system of it, in which these limitations shall
for ever receive due recognition, and no man be thereafter denied the
opportunity of acquiring as much of the bounty of nature as is necessary
for him to carry out his personal development?

That is Marlo's task, and it would have been an easy one, if all goods,
if everything that satisfies a human want, had been supplied directly by
nature, as air is supplied, without the need of industry to procure it
or the power of industry to multiply it. Then the problem would be
solved very simply as the earlier communists desired to solve it. Every
member of society would be entitled to partake of nature's supplies, as
he now does of air, in the measure of his need, and when those supplies
ran exhausted, just as when the air became vitiated, society would be
entitled, nay obliged, to suppress further propagation. But the question
is far from being so simple. Nature only yields her bounties to us after
labour; they are only converted into means of life by labour; and they
are capable of being vastly multiplied by labour. This element of
labour changes the situation of things considerably, and must be allowed
a leading _rôle_ in determining a just right and system of property. The
only case where a proprietary right can be recognised which is
unmodified by this consideration, is the case of those who are unable to
labour. They fall back on their original right to a share in the bounty
of nature in the measure that their personal development requires; in
other words, according to their needs. Their share does not lie waste,
though they are unable to work it themselves, and their share belongs to
them immediately because they are persons, and not because they may
afterwards become labourers. Marlo recognises, therefore, antecedently
to labour the right to existence, and this right he proposes to realize
for the weak and disabled by means of a compulsory system of national

The other natural proprietary rights are consequent in one way or
another upon labour. First, there is the right to labour. If every man
has a right to a share in the dominion of nature, then every man who is
able to labour has a right to obtain the natural resources that are
necessary to give him employment according to capacity and trade. No
private appropriation of these resources can divest him of his title to
get access to them, and if he cannot find work himself, the State is
bound to provide it for him in public workshops. Second, every man has a
right to the most profitable possible application of labour to natural
resources. He has an interest in seeing the common stock put to the best
account, and he is wronged in this interest when waste is permitted,
when inferior methods are resorted to, or when the distribution of work
and materials is ill arranged. Now the best arrangement is when each man
is equipped according to the measure and quality of his powers. Nature
will be then best worked, and man's personal development will then be
best furthered. If such an arrangement cannot be effected on the system
of property now in vogue, while it may be under another, it is every
man's right to have the former system supplanted by the latter. The most
economical form of property is the most just. Third, the next right is a
right to an almost unlimited control over the fruits of one's own
labour. Not over the means of labour; these can only be justly or
economically held by a circumscribed control; but over the fruits of
labour. These ought to be retained as exclusive property, for the simple
reason that the natural resources will be so turned to the best account.
On any other system of payment the motive to labour is impaired, and the
amount of its produce diminished. Distribution by need defeats its own
end; the very needs of the community would be less amply satisfied after
it than before it. Distribution according to work is the sound economic
principle, and therefore the just one. Marlo here leaves room for the
play of the hereditary principle and of competition to some extent, and
he allows the free choice of occupation on similar grounds. Men will
work best in lines their own tastes and powers lead them to. Everything
is determined by economic utility, and economic utility is supposed to
be at its height when the natural resources of a country are distributed
among its inhabitants according to the requirements of their labouring

This condition of things can only be realized, first, if population is
regulated; second, if unproductive labour is suppressed; and third, if
the means of labour are made common property. The necessity for
regulating population comes, of course, from the limitation of the
natural resources at society's command. In any community there is a
certain normal limit of population--the limit at which all the natural
resources are distributed among all the inhabitants according to their
powers--and the community will learn when this limit is reached from the
number of workmen who are unable to obtain private employment, and are
obliged to seek work from the State. Then it can regulate population by
various expedients. It may require the possession of a certain amount of
fortune as a preliminary condition to marriage, and raise this amount
according to necessity. It may encourage emigration. It may forbid
marriages under a fixed age, and to prevent illegitimacy, it might give
natural children the same rights as legitimate ones. But Marlo trusts
most to the strong preventive check that would be supplied by the power
imparted to working men under the Federal _régime_ of improving their

The same necessity that makes it legitimate, and, indeed, imperative to
regulate population, makes it legitimate and imperative also to suppress
what Marlo calls unproductive acquisition, _i.e._, the acquisition by
persons who are able to work of any other property than they earn as the
fruit of their work; and to suppress likewise all waste of the means of
life and enjoyment, such, for example, as is involved in the maintenance
of unnecessary horses, dogs, or other animals that only eat up the
products of the soil. The obligation to labour and the curtailment of
luxury would come into exercise before the restrictions on population,
and be more and more rigorously enforced as the normal limit of
population was approximated.

But the most important and the most necessary innovation is the
conversion of land and the instruments of production into the form of
collective property. The form in which property should be held ought to
be strictly determined by considerations of economic utility. From such
considerations the Liberals themselves have introduced important changes
into the system of property; they have abolished fiefs, hereditary
tenancies, entail, servitudes, church and village lands, all the
peculiarities of monopolistic society, because, as they said, they
wished to substitute a good form of property for a bad; and they at
least have no right, Marlo thinks, to turn round now on Communists or
Federalists for proposing to supersede this good form of property by a
better. They have themselves transformed property by law, and they have
transformed it on grounds of economic advantage; they have owned that
the economic superiority of a particular form of property imposes a
public obligation for its compulsory introduction. They asserted the
competency of the State against the monopolists, and they cannot now
deny it against the socialists. If the private form of property is best,
then let the State maintain it; but if the collective form is best, then
the State is bound, even on the principles of Liberals themselves, to
introduce it. The question can only be determined by experience of the
comparative economic utility of the two. Without offering any detailed
proof of his proposition from experience Marlo then affirms that the
most advantageous form of property is reached when the instruments of
production are the collective property of associations, and the
instruments of enjoyment (except wells, bridges, and the like) are the
property of individuals. Each man's house would still be his castle; his
house and the fulness thereof would still belong to him; but outside of
it he could acquire no individual possessions. Of land and the means of
labour, he should be joint-proprietor with others, or rather
joint-tenant with them under the Crown. Industrial property would be
held in common by the associations that worked it, and these
associations would be organized by authority with distinct charters of
powers and functions.

Marlo thus arrives at the same practical scheme as Marx, though by a
slightly different road. Marx builds his claim on Ricardo's theory of
value and Ricardo's law of necessary wages. Marlo builds his on man's
natural right, as a sharer in the dominion of nature, to the most
advantageous exercise of that dominion.



The Socialists of the Chair have done themselves injustice and sown
their course with embarrassing misconceptions by adopting too hastily an
infelicitous name. It is more descriptive than most political nicknames,
and therefore more liable to mislead. It was first used in 1872 in a
pamphlet by Oppenheim, then one of the leaders of the National Liberals,
to ridicule a group of young professors of political economy who had
begun to show a certain undefined sympathy with the socialist agitations
of Lassalle and Von Schweitzer, and to write of the wrongs of the
labouring classes and the evils of the existing industrial system with a
flow of emotion which was thought to befit their years better than their
position. A few months later these young professors called together at
Eisenach a Congress of all who shared their general attitude towards
that class of questions. In opening this Congress--which was attended by
almost every economist of note in Germany, and by a number of the
weightiest and most distinguished Liberal politicians--Professor
Schmoller employed the name "Socialists of the Chair" to describe
himself and those present, without adding a single qualifying remark,
just as if it had been their natural and chosen designation. The
nickname was no doubt accepted so readily, partly from a desire to take
the edge off the sneer it was meant to convey, but partly also from the
nobler feeling which makes men stand by a truth that is out of favour.
Not that they approved of the contentions of social democracy out and
out, but they believed there was more basis of truth in them than
persons in authority were inclined to allow, and besides that the truth
they contained was of special and even pressing importance. They held,
as Schmoller said, that "Social Democracy was itself a consequence of
the sins of modern Liberalism." They went entirely with the Social
Democrats in maintaining both that a grave social crisis had arisen, and
that it had been largely brought about by an irrational devotion on the
part of the Liberals to the economic doctrine of _laissez-faire_. But
they went further with them. They believed that the salvation of modern
society was to come, not indeed from the particular scheme of
reconstruction advocated by the Social Democrats, but still from
applications in one form or another of their fundamental principle, the
principle of association. And it was for that reason--it was for the
purpose of marking the value they set upon the associative principle as
the chief source of healing for the existing ills of the nations--that
they chose to risk misunderstanding and obloquy by accepting the
nickname put upon them by their adversaries. The late Professor Held,
who claims as a merit that he was the first to do so, explains very
clearly what he meant by calling himself a socialist. Socialism may
signify many different things, but, as he uses the word, it denotes not
any definite system of opinions or any particular plan of social reform,
but only a general method which may guide various systems, and may be
employed more or less according to circumstances in directing many
different reforms. He is a socialist because he would give much more
place than obtains at present to the associative principle in the
arrangements of economic life, and because he cannot share in the
admiration many economists express for the purely individualistic basis
on which these arrangements have come to stand. A socialist is simply
the opposite of an individualist. The individualist considers that the
perfection of an industrial economy consists in giving to the principles
of self-interest, private property, and free competition, on which the
present order of things is founded, the amplest scope they are capable
of receiving, and that all existing economic evils are due, not to the
operation of these principles, but only to their obstruction, and will
gradually disappear when self-interest comes to be better understood,
when competition is facilitated by easier inter-communication, and when
the law has ceased from troubling and left industry at rest. The
socialist, in Held's sense, is, on the other hand, one who rejects the
comfortable theory of the natural harmony of individual interests, and
instead of deploring the obstructions which embarrass the operations of
the principles of competition, self-interest, and private property,
thinks that it is precisely in consequence of these obstructions that
industrial society contrives to exist at all. Strip these principles, he
argues, of the restraints put upon them now by custom, by conscience, by
public opinion, by a sense of fairness and kind feeling, and the
inequalities of wealth would be immensely aggravated, and the labouring
classes would be unavoidably ground to misery. Industrial society would
fall into general anarchy, into a _bellum omnium contra omnes_, in which
they that have would have more abundantly, and they that have not would
lose even what they have. Held declines to join in the admiration
bestowed by many scientific economists upon this state of war, in which
the battle is always to the rich. He counts it neither the state of
nature, nor the state of perfection, of economic society, but simply an
unhappy play of selfish and opposing forces, which it ought to be one of
the distinct aims of political economy to mitigate and counteract.
Individualism has already had too free a course, and especially in the
immediate past has enjoyed too sovereign a reign. The work of the world
cannot be carried on by a fortuitous concourse of hostile atoms, moving
continually in a strained state of suspended social war, and therefore,
for the very safety of industrial society, we must needs now change our
tack, give up our individualism, and sail in the line of the more
positive and constructive tendencies of socialism. To Held's thinking
accordingly, socialism and individualism are merely two contrary general
principles, ideals, or methods, which may be employed to regulate the
constitution of economic society, and he declares himself a socialist
because he believes that society suffers at present from an excessive
application of the individualistic principle, and can only be cured by
an extensive employment of the socialistic one.

This is all clear enough, but it is simply giving to the word socialism
another new meaning, and creating a fresh source of ambiguity. That term
has already contracted definite associations which it is impossible to
dispel by mere word of mouth, and which constitute a refracting medium
through which the principles of the Socialists of the Chair cannot fail
to be presented in a very misleading form. These writers assume a
special position in two relations--first, as theoretical economists;
and, second, as practical politicians or social reformers; and in both
respects alike the term socialism is peculiarly inappropriate to
describe their views. In regard to the first point, by adopting that
name they have done what they could to "Nicodemus" themselves into a
sect, whereas they might have claimed, if they chose, to be better
exponents of the catholic tradition of the science than those who found
fault with them. This is a claim, however, which they would be shocked
indeed to think of presenting. With a natural partiality for their own
opinions, they exaggerated immensely the extent and also the value of
their divergence from the traditional or, as it is sometimes called, the
classical economics. In the energy of their recoil from the dogmatism
which had for a generation usurped an excessive sway over economic
science, they were carried too far in the opposite direction, but they
had in their own minds the sensation that they were carried a great deal
farther than they really were. They liked to think of their historical
method as constituting a new epoch, and effecting a complete revolution
in political economy, but, as will subsequently appear, that method,
when reduced to its real worth, amounts to no more than an application,
with somewhat distincter purpose and wider reach, of the method which
Smith himself followed. Of this they are in some degree conscious.
Brentano, who belongs to the extreme right of the school, says that
Smith would have been a Socialist of the Chair to-day if he were alive;
and Samter, who belongs to the extreme left, though he is doubtful
regarding Smith, has no hesitation in claiming Mill, whom he looks upon
as standing more outside than inside the school of Smith. Their position
is, therefore, not the new departure which many of them would fain
represent it to be. They are really as natural and as legitimate a line
of descent from Adam Smith as their adversaries the German Manchester
Party who claimed the authority of his name. Perhaps they are even more
so, for in science the true succession lies with those who carry the
principles of the master to a more fruitful development, and not with
those who embalm them as sacred but sterile simulacra.

But it is as practical reformers that the Socialists of the Chair suffer
most injustice from their name. Since the word socialism was first used
by Reybaud fifty years ago, it has always been connected with utopian or
revolutionary ideas. Now the Socialists of the Chair are the very
opposite of revolutionaries both by creed and practice. None of the
various parties which occupy themselves with the social problem in
Germany is so eminently and advisedly practical. Their very historical
method, apart from anything else, makes them so. It gives them a special
aversion to political and social experiments, for it requires as the
first essential of any project of reform that it shall issue naturally
and easily out of--or at least be harmonious with--the historical
conditions of the time and place to which it is to be applied. Roscher,
who may be regarded as the founder of the school, says that reformers
ought to take for their model Time, whose reforms are the surest and
most irresistible of all, but yet so gradual that they cannot be
observed at any given moment. They make, therefore, on the whole a very
sparing use of the socialistic principle they invoke. Certainly the
world, in their eyes, is largely out of joint, but its restoration is to
proceed gently, like Solomon's temple, without sound of hammer. Some of
them of course go farther than others, but they would all still leave us
rent, wages, and profits, the three main stems of individualism. They
struck the idea of taxing speculative profits out of their programme,
and so far from having any socialistic thought of abolishing
inheritance, none of them except Von Scheel would even tax it
exceptionally. Samter stands alone in urging the nationalization of the
land; and Wagner stands alone in desiring the abolition of private
property in ground-rents in towns; the other members cannot agree even
about the expediency of nationalizing the railways. They work of set
purpose for a better distribution of wealth--for what Schmoller calls a
progressive equalization of the excessive and even dangerous differences
of culture that exist at present--but they recoil from all suggestion of
schemes of repartition, and they have no fault to find with inequality
in itself. On the contrary they regard inequality as being not merely
an unavoidable result of men's natural endowments, but an indispensable
instrument of their progress and civilization. Schmoller explains that
their political principles are those of Radical Toryism, as portrayed in
Lord Beaconsfield's novels; and he means that they rest on the same
active sympathy with the ripening aspirations of the labouring classes,
and the same zealous confidence in the authority of the State, and in
these respects are distinguished from modern Liberalism, whose governing
sympathies are with the interests and ideas of the _bourgeoisie_, and
which entertains a positive jealousy of the action of the State. The
actual reforms which the Socialists of the Chair have hitherto promoted
have been in the main copied from our own English legislation--our
Factory Acts, our legalization of Trade Unions, our Savings Banks, our
registration of Friendly Societies, our sanitary legislation, etc.,
etc.--measures which have been passed, with the concurrence of men of
opposite shades of opinion, out of no social theory but from a plain
regard to the obvious necessities of the hour. So that we have been
simply Socialists of the Chair for a generation without knowing it,
doing from a happy political instinct the works which they deduce out of
an elaborate theory of economic politics. Part of their theory, however,
is, that in practical questions they are not to go by theory, and the
consequence is that while they sometimes lay down general principles in
which communism might steal a shelter, they control these principles so
much in their application by considerations of expediency, that the
measures they end in proposing differ little from such as commend
themselves to the common sense and public spirit of middle-class

Their general theory had been taught in Germany for twenty years before
it was forced into importance by the policy it suggested and the
controversies it excited in connection with the socialist movement which
began in 1863. Wilhelm Roscher, the lately deceased professor of
economics in Leipzig, first propounded the historical method in his
"Grundriss zu Vorlesungen über die Staatswirthschaft nach
geschichtlicher Methode," published in 1843, though it deserves to be
noticed that in this work he spoke of the historical method as being
the ordinary inductive method of scientific economists, and
distinguished it from the idealistic method proceeding by deduction from
preconceived ideas, which he said was the method of the socialists. He
had no thought as yet of representing his method as diverging from that
of his predecessors, even in detail, much less as being essentially
different in principle. Then the late Bruno Hildebrand, professor of
political science at Jena, in his work on the "National Economy of the
Present and the Future," published in 1847, proclaimed the historical
method as the harbinger and instrument of a new era in the science, but
he speaks of it only as a restoration of the method of diligent
observation which Adam Smith practised, but which his disciples deserted
for pure abstractions. In 1853, a more elaborate defence and exposition
of the historical method appeared in a work on "Political Economy from
the Standpoint of the Historical Method," by Carl G. A. Knies, professor
of national economics at Heidelberg. But it was never dreamt that the
ideas broached in these works had spread beyond the few solitary
thinkers who issued them. The Free Traders were still seen ruling
everything in the high places of the land in the name of political
economy, and they were everywhere apparently accepted as authorized
interpreters of the mysteries of that, to the ordinary public, somewhat
occult science. They preached the freedom of exchange like a religion
which contained at once all they were required to believe in economic
matters, and all they were required to do. There was ground for
Lassalle's well-known taunt: "Get a starling, Herr Schultze, teach it to
pronounce the word 'exchange,' 'exchange,' 'exchange,' and you have
produced a very good modern economist." The German Manchester Party
certainly gave to the principle of _laissez-faire, laissez-aller_, a
much more unconditional and universal application than any party in this
country thought of according to it. They looked on it as a kind of
orthodoxy which it had come to be almost impious to challenge. It had
been hallowed by the consensus of the primitive fathers of the science,
and it seemed now to be confirmed beyond question experimentally by the
success of the practical legislation in which it had been exemplified
during the previous quarter of a century. The adherents of the new
school never raised a murmur against all this up till the eventful time
of the socialist agitation and the formation of the new German Empire,
and the reason is very plain. On the economic questions which came up
before that period, they were entirely at one with the Free Traders, and
gave a hearty support to their energetic lead. They were, for example,
as strenuously opposed to protective duties and to restrictions upon
liberty of migration, settlement, and trading, as Manchester itself. But
with the socialist agitation of 1863, a new class of economic questions
came to the front--questions respecting the condition of the working
classes, the relations of capital and labour, the distribution of
national wealth, and the like--and on these new questions they could not
join the Free Traders in saying "Hands off!" They did not believe with
the Manchester school that the existing distribution of wealth was the
best of all possible distributions, because it was the distribution
which Nature herself produced. They thought, on the contrary, that
Nature had little to do with the matter; but even if it had more, there
was only too good cause for applying strong corrections by art. They
said it was vain for the Manchester party to deny that a social question
existed, and to maintain that the working classes were as well off as it
was practical for economic arrangements to make them. They declared
there was much truth in the charges which socialists were bringing
against the existing order of things, and that there was a decided call
upon all the powers of society, and, among others, especially upon the
State, to intervene with some remedial measures. A good opportunity for
concerted and successful action seemed to be afforded when the German
Empire was established, and this led to the convening of the Eisenach
Congress in 1872, and the organization of the Society for Social
Politics in the following year.

Men of all shades of opinion were invited to that Congress, provided
they agreed on two points, which were expressly mentioned in the
invitation: 1st, in entertaining an earnest sense of the gravity of the
social crisis which existed; and 2nd, in renouncing the principle of
_laissez-faire_ and all its works. The Congress was attended by 150
members, including many leading politicians and most of the professors
of political economy at the Universities. Roscher, Knies, and Hildebrand
were there, with their younger disciples Schmoller, professor at
Strasburg and author of the "History of the Small Industries"; Lujo
Brentano, professor at Breslau, well known in this country by his book
on "English Gilds" and his larger work on "English Trade Unions";
Professors A. Wagner of Berlin and Schönberg of Tübingen. Then there
were men like Max Hirsch and Duncker the publisher, both members of the
Imperial Diet, and the founders of the Hirsch-Duncker Trade Unions; Dr.
Engel, director of the statistical bureau at Berlin; Professor von
Holtzendorff, the criminal jurist; and Professor Gneist, historian of
the English Constitution, who was chosen to preside. After an opening
address by Schmoller, three papers were read and amply discussed, one on
Factory Legislation by Brentano, a second on trade Unions and Strikes by
Schmoller, and a third on Labourers' Dwellings by Engel. This Congress
first gave the German public an idea of the strength of the new
movement; and the Free Trade party were completely, and somewhat
bitterly, disenchanted, when they found themselves deserted, not as they
fancied merely by a few effusive young men, but by almost every
economist of established reputation in the country. A sharp controversy
ensued. The newspapers, with scarcely an exception, attacked the
Socialists of the Chair tooth and nail, and leading members of the
Manchester party, such as Treitschke the historian, Bamberger the
Liberal politician, and others, rushed eagerly into the fray. They were
met with spirit by Schmoller, Held, Von Scheel, Brentano, and other
spokesmen of the Eisenach position, and one result of the polemic is,
that some of the misunderstandings which naturally enough clouded that
position at the beginning have been cleared away, and it is now admitted
by both sides that they are really much nearer one another than either
at first supposed. The Socialists of the Chair did not confine their
labours to controversial pamphlets. They published newspapers,
periodicals, elaborate works of economic investigation; they held
meetings, promoted trade unions, insurance societies, savings banks;
they brought the hours of labour, the workmen's houses, the effects of
speculation and crises, all within the sphere of legislative
consideration. The moderation of their proposals of change has
conciliated to a great extent their Manchester opponents. Even
Oppenheim, the inventor of their nickname, laid aside his scoffing, and
seconded some of their measures energetically. Indeed, their chief
adversaries are now the socialists, who cannot forgive them for going
one mile with them and yet refusing to go twain--for adopting their
diagnosis and yet rejecting their prescription. Brentano, who is one of
the most moderate, as well as one of the ablest of them, takes nearly as
grave a view of the state of modern industrial society as the socialists
themselves do; and he says that if the evils from which it suffers could
not be removed otherwise, it would be impossible to avoid much longer a
socialistic experiment. But then he maintains that they can be removed
otherwise, and one of the chief motives of himself and his allies in
their practical work is to put an end to socialistic agitation by curing
the ills which have excited it.

The key to the position of the Socialists of the Chair lies in their
historical method. This method has nothing to do with the question
sometimes discussed whether the proper method of political economy is
the inductive or the deductive. On that question the historical school
of economists are entirely agreed with the classical school. Roscher,
for example, adopts Mill's description of political economy as a
concrete deductive science, whose _à priori_ conclusions, based on laws
of human nature, must be tested by experience, and says that an economic
fact can be said to have received a scientific explanation only when its
inductive and deductive explanations have met and agreed. He makes,
indeed, two qualifying remarks. One is, that it ought to be remembered
that even the deductive explanation is based on observation, on the
self-observation of the person who offers it. This will be admitted by
all. The other is, that every explanation is only provisional, and
liable to be superseded in the course of the progress of knowledge, and
of the historical growth of social and economic structure. This will
also be admitted, and it is no peculiarity of political economy. There
is no science whose conclusions are not modified by the advance of
knowledge; and there are many sciences besides political economy whose
phenomena change their type in lapse of time. Roscher's proviso,
therefore, amounts to nothing more than a caution to economic
investigators to build their explanations scrupulously on the facts, the
whole facts, and nothing but the facts, and to be specially on their
guard against applying to the circumstances of one period or nation
explanations and recommendations which are only just regarding another.
The same disease may have different symptoms in a child from what it has
in a man, and a somewhat different type at the present day from what it
had some centuries ago; and it may therefore require a quite different
treatment. That is a very sound principle and a very self-evident one,
and it contains the whole essence of the historical method, which, so
far as it is a method of investigation at all, is simply that of other
economists applied under a more dominating sense of the complexity and
diversity of the phenomena which are subjected to it. There is
consequently with the historical school more rigour of observation and
less rigour of theory, and this peculiarity leads to practical results
of considerable importance, but it has no just pretensions to assume the
dignity of a new economic method, and it is made to appear much bigger
than it is by looming through the scholastic distinctions in which it is
usually set forth.

The historical school sometimes call their method the _realistic_ and
_ethical_ method, to distinguish it from what they are pleased to term
the _idealistic_, and _selfish_ or _materialistic_ method of the earlier
economists. They are _realists_ because they cannot agree with the
majority of economists who have gone before them in believing there is
one, and only one, ideal of the best economic system. There are, says
Roscher, as many different ideals as there are different types of
peoples, and he completely casts aside the notion, which had generally
prevailed before him, that there is a single normal system of economic
arrangements, which is built on the natural laws of economic life, and
to which all nations may at all times with advantage conform. It is
against this notion that the historical school has revolted with so much
energy that they wish to make their opposition to it the flag and
symbol of a schism. They deny that there are any natural laws in
political economy; they deny that there is any economic solution
absolutely valid, or capable of answering in one economic situation
because it has answered in another. Roscher, Knies, and the older
members of the school make most of the latter point; but Hildebrand,
Schönberg, Schmoller, Brentano, and the younger spirits among them,
direct against the former some of their keenest attacks. They declare it
to be a survival from the exploded metaphysics of the much-abused
_Aufklärung_ of last century. They argue that just as the economists of
that period took self-interest to be the only economic motive, because
the then dominant psychology--that of the selfish or sensual
school--represented it as the only real motive of human action, of which
the other motives were merely modifications; so did they come to count
the reciprocal action and reaction of the self-interest of different
individuals to be a system of natural forces, working according to
natural laws, because they found the whole intellectual air they
breathed at the time filled with the idea that all error in poetry, art,
ethics, and therefore also economics, had come through departing from
nature, and that the true course in everything lay in giving the
supremacy to the nature of things. We need not stop to discuss this
historical question as to the origin of the idea; it is enough here to
say that the Socialists of the Chair maintain that in economic affairs
it is impossible to make any such distinction between what is natural
and what is not so. Everything results from nature, and everything
results from positive institution too. There is in economics either no
nature at all, or there is nothing else. Human will effects or affects
all; and human will is itself influenced, of course, by human nature and
human condition. Roscher says that it is a mistake to speak of industry
being forced into "unnatural" courses by priests or tyrants, for the
priests and tyrants are part and parcel of the people themselves,
deriving all their resources from the people, and in no respect
Archimedeses standing outside of their own world. The action of the
State in economic affairs is just as natural as the action of the farmer
or the manufacturer; and the latter is as much matter of positive
institution as the former. But while Roscher condemns this distinction,
he does not go the length his disciples have gone, and reject the whole
idea of natural law in the sphere of political economy. On the contrary,
he actually makes use of the expression, "the natural laws of political
economy," and asserts that, when they are once sufficiently known, all
that is then needed to guide economic politics is to obtain exact and
reliable statistics of the situation to which they are to be applied.
Now that statement is exactly the position of the classical school on
the subject. Economic politics is, of course, like all other politics,
an affair of times and nations; but economic science belongs to mankind,
and contains principles which may be accurately enough termed, as
Roscher terms them, natural laws, and which may be applied, as he would
apply them, to the improvement of particular economic situations, on
condition that sufficiently complete and correct statistics are obtained
beforehand of the whole actual circumstances. Economic laws are, of
course, of the nature of ethical laws, and not of physical; but they are
none the less on that account natural laws, and the polemic instituted
by the Socialists of the Chair to expel the notion of natural law from
the entire territory of political economy is unjustifiable. Phenomena
which are the result of human action will always exhibit regularities
while human character remains the same; and, moreover, they often
exhibit undesigned regularities which, not being imposed upon them by
man, must be imposed upon them by Nature. While, therefore, the
Socialists of the Chair have made a certain point against the older
economists by showing the futility and mischief of distinguishing
between what is natural in economics and what is not, they have erred in
seeking to convert that point into an argument against the validity of
economic principles and the existence of economic laws. At the same time
their position constitutes a wholesome protest against the tendency to
exaggerate the completeness or finality of current doctrines, and gives
economic investigation a beneficial direction by setting it upon a more
thorough and all-sided observation of facts.

But when they complain of the earlier economists being so wedded to
abstractions, the fault they chiefly mean to censure is the habit of
solving practical economic problems by the unconditional application of
certain abstract principles. It is the "absolutism of solutions" they
condemn. They think economists were used to act like doctors who had
learnt the principles of medicine by rote and applied them without the
least discrimination of the peculiarities of individual constitutions.
With them the individual peculiarities are everything, and the
principles are too much thrown into the shade. Economic phenomena, they
hold, constitute only one phase of the general life of the particular
nations in which they appear. They are part and parcel of a special
concrete social organism. They are influenced--they are to a great
extent made what they are--by the whole _ethos_ of the people they
pertain to, by their national character, their state of culture, their
habits, customs, laws. Economic problems are consequently always of
necessity problems of the time, and can only be solved for the period
that raises them. Their very nature alters under other skies and in
other ages. They neither appear everywhere in the same shape, nor admit
everywhere of the same answer. They must therefore be treated
historically and empirically, and political economy is always an affair
for the nation and never for the world. The historical school inveigh
against the _cosmopolitanism_ of the current economic theories, and
declare warmly in favour of _nationalism_; according to which every
nation has its own political economy just as it has its own constitution
and its own character. Now here they are right in what they affirm,
wrong in what they deny. They are right in affirming that economic
politics is national, wrong in denying that economic science is
cosmopolitan. In German the word economy denotes the concrete industrial
system as well as the abstract science of industrial systems, and one
therefore readily falls into the error of applying to the latter what is
only true of the former. There may be general principles of engineering,
though every particular project can only be successfully accomplished by
a close regard to its particular conditions. In claiming a cosmopolitan
validity for their principles, economists do not overlook their
essential relativity. On the contrary, they describe their economic
laws as being in reality nothing more than tendencies, which are not
even strictly true as scientific explanations, and are never for a
moment contemplated as unconditional solutions for practical situations.
Moreover Roscher, in defining his task as an economist, virtually takes
up the cosmopolitan standpoint and virtually rejects the national. He
says a political economist has to explain what is or has been, and not
to show what ought to be; he quotes the saying of Dunoyer, _Je n'impose
rien, je ne propose même rien, j'expose_; and states that what he has to
do is to unfold the anatomy and physiology of social and national
economy. He is a scientific man, and not an economic politician, and
naturally assumes the position of science, which is cosmopolitan, and
not that of politics, which is national and even opportunist.

I pass now to a perhaps more important point, from which it will be seen
that the Socialists of the Chair are far from thinking that political
economy has nothing to do with what ought to be. Next to the _realistic_
school, the name they prefer to describe themselves by is the _ethical_
school. By this they mean two things, and some of them lay the stress on
the one and some on the other. They mean, first, to repudiate the idea
of self-interest being the sole economic motive or force. They do not
deny it to be a leading motive in industrial transactions, and they do
not, like some of the earlier socialists, aim at its extinction or
replacement by a social or generous principle of action. But they
maintain that the course of industry never has been and never will be
left to its guidance alone. Many other social forces, national
character, ideas, customs--the whole inherited _ethos_ of the
people--individual peculiarities, love of power, sense of fair dealing,
public opinion, conscience, local ties, family connections, civil
legislation--all exercise upon industrial affairs as real an influence
as personal interest, and, furthermore, they exercise an influence of
precisely the same kind. They all operate ethically, through human will,
judgment, motives, and in this respect one of them has no advantage over
another. It cannot be said, except in a very limited sense, that
self-interest is an essential and abiding economic force and the others
only accidental and passing. For while customs perish, custom remains;
opinions come and go, but opinion abides; and though any particular act
of the State's intervention may be abolished, State intervention itself
cannot possibly be dispensed with. It is all a matter of more or less,
of here or there. The State is not the intruder in industry it is
represented to be. It is planted in the heart of the industrial organism
from the beginning, and constitutes in fact part of the nature of things
from which it is sought to distinguish it. It is not unnatural for us to
wear clothes because we happen to be born naked, for Nature has given us
a principle which guides us to adapt our dress to our climate and
circumstances. Reason is as natural as passion, and the economists who
repel the State's intrusion and think they are thus leaving industry to
take its natural course, commit the same absurdity as the moralist who
recommends men to live according to Nature, and explains living
according to Nature to mean the gratification as much as possible of his
desires, and his abandonment as much as possible of rational and, as he
conceives, artificial plan. The State cannot observe an absolute
neutrality if it would. Non-intervention is only a particular kind of
intervention. There must be laws of property, succession, and the like,
and the influence of these spreads over the whole industrial system, and
affects both the character of its production and the incidence of its
distribution of wealth.

But, second, by calling their method the _ethical_ method, the
historical school desire to repudiate the idea that in dealing with
economic phenomena they are dealing with things which are morally
indifferent, like the phenomena of physics, and that science has nothing
to do with them but to explain them. They have certainly reason to
complain that the operation of the laws of political economy is
sometimes represented as if it were morally as neutral as the operation
of the law of gravitation, and it is in this conception that they think
the materialism of the dominant economic school to be practically most
offensively exhibited. Economic phenomena are not morally indifferent;
they are ethical in their very being, and ought to be treated as such.
Take, for example, the labour contract. To treat it as a simple exchange
between equals is absurd. The labourer must sell his labour or starve,
and may be obliged to take such terms for it as leave him without the
means of enjoying the rights which society awards him, and discharging
the duties which society claims from him. Look on him as a ware, if you
will, but remember he is a ware that has life, that has connections,
responsibilities, expectations, domestic, social, political. To get his
bread he might sell his freedom, but society will not permit him; he may
sell his health, he may sell his character, for society permits that; he
may go to sea in rotten ships, and be sent to work in unwholesome
workshops; he may be herded in farm bothies where the commonest
decencies of life cannot be observed; and he may suck the strength out
of posterity by putting his children to premature toil to eke out his
precarious living. Transactions which have such direct bearings on
freedom, on health, on morals, on the permanent well-being of the
nation, can never be morally indifferent. They are necessarily within
the sphere of ends and ideals. Their ethical side is one of their most
important ones, and the science that deals with them is therefore
ethical. For the same reason they come within the province of the State,
which is the normal guardian of the general and permanent interests,
moral and economic, of the community. The State does not stand to
industry like a watchman who guards from the outside property in which
he has himself no personal concern. It has a positive industrial office.
It is, says Schmoller, the great educational institute of the human
race, and there is no sense in suspiciously seeking to reduce its action
in industrial affairs to a minimum. His theory of the State is that of
the _Cultur-Staat_, in distinction from the _Polizei-Staat_, and the
_Rechts-Staat_. The State can no longer be regarded as merely an
omnipotent instrument for the maintenance of tranquillity and order in
the name of Heaven; nor even as a constitutional organ of the collective
national authority for securing to all individuals and classes in the
nation, without exception, the rights and privileges which they are
legally recognised to possess; but it must be henceforth looked upon as
a positive agency for the spread of universal culture within its
geographical territory.

With these views, the Socialists of the Chair could not fail to take an
active concern with the class of topics thrown up by the socialist
movement, and exciting still so much attention in Germany under the name
of the social question. They neither state that question nor answer it
like the socialists, but their first offence, and the fountain of all
their subsequent offending, in the judgment of their Manchester
antagonists, consisted in their acknowledgment that there was a social
question at all. Not that the Manchester party denied the existence of
evils in the present state of industry, but they looked upon these evils
as resulting from obstructions to the freedom of competition which time,
and time alone, would eventually remove, and from moral causes with
which economists had no proper business. The Socialists of the Chair,
however, could not dismiss their responsibility for those evils so
easily. They owned at once that a social crisis had arisen or was near
at hand. The effect of the general adoption of the large system of
production had been to diminish the numbers of the middle classes, to
reduce the great bulk of the lower classes permanently to the position
of wage-labourers, and to introduce some grave elements of peril and
distress into the condition of the wage-labourers themselves. They are
doubtless better fed, better lodged, better clad, than they were say in
the middle and end of last century, when not one in a hundred of them
had shoes to his feet, when seven out of eight on the Continent were
still bondsmen, and when three out of every four in England had to eke
out their wages by parochial relief. But, in spite of these advantages,
their life has now less hope and less security than it had then.
Industry on the great scale has multiplied the vicissitudes of trade,
and rendered the labourer much more liable to be thrown out of work. It
has diminished the avenues to comparative independence and dignity which
were open to the journeyman under the _régime_ of the small industries.
And while thus condemned to live by wages alone all his days, he could
entertain no reasonable hope--at least before the formation of trade
unions--that his wages could be kept up within reach of the measure of
his wants, as these wants were being progressively expanded by the
general advance of culture. Moreover, the twinge of the case lies here,
that while the course which industrial development is taking seems to be
banishing hope and security more and more from the labourer's life, the
progress of general civilization is making these benefits more and more
imperatively demanded. The working classes have been growing steadily in
the scale of moral being. They have acquired complete personal freedom,
legal equality, political rights, general education, a class
consciousness; and they have come to cherish a very natural and
legitimate aspiration that they shall go on progressively sharing in the
increasing blessings of civilization. Brentano says that modern public
opinion concedes this claim of the working man as a right to which he is
entitled, but that modern industrial conditions have been unable as yet
to secure him in the possession of it; hence the Social Question. Now
some persons may be ready enough to admit this claim as a thing which it
is eminently desirable to see realized, who will yet demur to the
representation of it as a right, which puts society under a
corresponding obligation. But this idea is a peculiarity belonging to
the whole way of thinking of the Socialists of the Chair upon these
subjects. Some of them indeed take even higher ground. Schmoller, for
example, declares that the working classes suffer positive wrong in the
present distribution of national wealth, considered from the standpoint
of distributive justice; but his associates as a rule do not agree with
him in applying this abstract standard to the case. Wagner also stands
somewhat out of the ranks of his fellows by throwing the responsibility
of the existing evils directly and definitely upon the State. According
to his view, there can never be anything which may be legitimately
called a Social Question, unless the evils complained of are clearly the
consequences of existing legislation, but he holds that that is so in
the present case. He considers that a mischievous turn has been given to
the distribution of wealth by legalizing industrial freedom without at
the same time imposing certain restrictions upon private property, the
rate of interest, and the speculations of the Stock Exchange. The State
has, therefore, caused the Social Question; and the State is bound to
settle it. The other Socialists of the Chair, however, do not bring the
obligation so dead home to the civil authority alone. The duty rests on
society, and, of course, so far on the State also, which is the chief
organ of society; but it is not to State-help alone, nor to self-help
alone, that the Socialists of the Chair ask working men to look; but it
is to what they term the self-help of society. Society has granted to
the labouring classes the rights of freedom and equality, and has,
therefore, come bound to give them, as far as it legitimately can, the
amplest facilities for practically enjoying these rights. To give a man
an estate mortgaged above its rental is only to mock him; to confer the
status of freedom upon working men merely to leave them overwhelmed in
an unequal struggle with capital is to make their freedom a dead letter.
Personal and civil independence require, as their indispensable
accompaniment, a certain measure of economic independence likewise, and
consequently to bestow the former as an inalienable right, and yet take
no concern to make the latter a possibility, is only to discharge
one-half of an obligation voluntarily undertaken, and to deceive
expectations reasonably entertained. No doubt this independence is a
thing which working men must in the main win for themselves, and day
after day, by labour, by providence, by association; but it is
nevertheless an important point to remember, with Brentano, that it
forms an essential part of an ideal which society has already
acknowledged to be legitimate, and which it is therefore bound to second
every effort to realize. The Social Question, conceived in the light of
these considerations, may accordingly be said to arise from the fact
that a certain material or economic independence has become more
necessary for the working man, and less possible. It is more necessary,
because, with the sanction of modern opinion, he has awoke to a new
sense of personal dignity, and it is less possible, in consequence of
circumstances already mentioned, attendant upon the development of
modern industry. It is not, as Lord Macaulay maintained, that the evils
of man's life are the same now as formerly, and that nothing has changed
but the intelligence which has become conscious of them. The new time
has brought new evils and less right or disposition to submit to them.
It is the conflict of these two tendencies which, in the thinking of the
Socialists of the Chair, constitutes the social crisis of the present
day. Some of them, indeed, describe it in somewhat too abstract formulæ,
which exercise an embarrassing influence on their speculations. For
example, Von Scheel says the Social Question is the effect of the felt
contradiction between the ideal of personal freedom and equality which
hangs before the present age, and the increasing inequality of wealth
which results from existing economic arrangements; and he proposes as
the general principle of solution, that men should now abandon the
exclusive devotion which modern Liberalism has paid to the principle of
freedom, and substitute in its room an adhesion to freedom _plus_
equality. But then equality may mean a great many different things, and
Von Scheel leaves us with no precise clue to the particular scope he
would give his principle in its application. He certainly seems to
desire more than a mere equality of right, and to aim at some sort or
degree of equality of fact, but what or how he informs us not; just as
Schmoller, while propounding the dogma of distributive justice, condemns
the communistic principle of distribution of wealth as being a purely
animal principle, and offers us no other incorporation of his dogma. In
spite of their antipathy to abstractions, many of the Socialists of the
Chair indulge considerably in barren generalities, which could serve
them nothing in practice, even if they did not make it a point to square
their practice by the historical conditions of the hour.

Brentano strikes on the whole the most practical keynote, both in his
conception of what the social question is and of how it is to be met.
What is needed, he thinks, very much is to give to modern industry an
organization as suitable to it as the old guilds were to the industry of
earlier times, and this is to be done in great part by adaptations of
that model. He makes comparatively little demand on the power of the
State, while of course agreeing with the rest of his school in the
latitude they give to the lawfulness of its intervention in industrial
matters. He would ask it to bestow a legal status on trade unions and
friendly societies, to appoint courts of conciliation, to regulate the
hours of labour, to institute factory inspection, and to take action of
some sort on the daily more urgent subject of labourers' dwellings. But
the elevation of the labouring classes must be wrought mainly by their
own well-guided and long-continued efforts, and the first step is gained
when they have resolved earnestly to begin. The pith of the problem
turns on the matter of wages, and, so far at any rate, it has already
been solved almost as well as is practicable by the English trade
unions, which have proved to the world that they are always able to
convert the question of wages from the question how little the labourer
can afford to take, into the question how much the employer is able to
give--_i.e._, from the minimum to the maximum which the state of the
market allows. That is, of course, a very important change, and it is
interesting to know that F. A. Lange, the able and distinguished
historian of Materialism, who had written on the labour question with
strong socialist sympathies, stated to Brentano that his account of the
English trade unions had converted him entirely from his belief that a
socialistic experiment was necessary. Brentano admits that the effect of
trade unions is partial only; that they really divide the labouring
class into two different strata--those who belong to the trade unions
being raised to a higher platform, and those who do not being left as
they were in the gall of bitterness. But then, he observes, great gain
has been made when at least a large section of the working class has
been brought more securely within the pale of advancing culture, and it
is only in this gradual way--section by section--that the elevation of
the whole body can be eventually accomplished. The trade union has
imported into the life of the working man something of the element of
hope which it wanted, and a systematic scheme of working-class insurance
is now needed to introduce the element of security. Brentano has
published an excellent little work on that subject; and here again he
asks no material help from the State. The working class must insure
themselves against all the risks of their life by association, just as
they must keep up the rate of their wages by association; and for the
same reasons--first, because they are able to do so under existing
economic conditions, and second, because it is only so the end can be
gained consistently with the modern moral conditions of their
life--_i.e._, with the maintenance of their personal freedom, equality,
and independence. Brentano thinks that the sound principle of
working-class insurance is that every trade union ought to become the
insurance society for its trade, because every trade has its own special
risks and therefore requires its own insurance premium, and because
malingering, feigned sickness, claims for loss of employment through
personal fault, and the like, cannot possibly be checked except by the
fund being administered by the local lodges of the trade to which the
subscribers belong. The insurance fund might be kept separate from the
other funds of the union, but he sees no reason why it should not be
combined with them, as it would only constitute a new obstacle to
ill-considered strikes, and as striking in itself will, he expects, in
course of time, give way to some system of arbitration. Brentano makes
no suggestion regarding the mass of the working class who belong to no
trade union. They cannot be dealt with in the same way, or so
effectively. But this is quite in keeping with the general principle of
the Socialists of the Chair--in which they differ _toto cælo_ from the
socialists--that society is not to be ameliorated by rigidly applying to
every bit of it the same plan, but only by a thousand modifications and
remedies adapted to its thousand varieties of circumstances and



The idea that a radical affinity exists between Christianity and
socialism in their general aim, in their essential principles, in their
pervading spirit, has strong attractions for a certain by no means
inferior order of mind, and we find it frequently maintained in the
course of history by representatives of both systems. Some of the
principal socialists of the earlier part of this century used to declare
that socialism was only Christianity more logically carried out and more
faithfully practised; or, at any rate, that socialism would be an idle
superfluity, if ordinary Christian principles were really to be acted
upon honestly and without reserve. St. Simon published his views under
the title of the "Nouveau Christianisme," and asserted that the
prevailing forms of Christianity were one gigantic heresy; that both the
Catholic and the Protestant Churches had now lost their power, simply
because they had neglected their great temporal mission of raising the
poor, and because their clergy had given themselves up to barren
discussions of theology, and remained absolutely ignorant of the living
social questions of the time; and that the true Christian _régime_ which
he was to introduce was one which should be founded on the Christian
principle that all men are brothers; which should be governed by the
Christian law, "Have ye love one to another," and in which all the
forces of society should be mainly consecrated to the amelioration of
the most numerous and poorest class. Cabet was not less explicit. He
said that "if Christianity had been interpreted and applied in the
spirit of Jesus Christ, if it were rightfully understood and faithfully
obeyed by the numerous sections of Christians who are really filled with
a sincere piety, and need only to know the truth to follow it, then
Christianity would have sufficed, and would still suffice, to establish
a perfect social and political organization, and to deliver mankind from
all its ills."

The same belief, that Christianity is essentially socialistic, has at
various times appeared in the Church itself. The socialism of the only
other period in modern history besides our own century, in which
socialistic ideas have prevailed to any considerable extent, was, in
fact, a direct outcome of Christian conviction, and was realized among
Christian sects. The socialism of the Anabaptists of the Reformation
epoch was certainly mingled with political ideas of class emancipation,
and contributed to stir the insurrection of the German peasantry; but
its real origin lay in the religious fervour which was abroad at the
time, and which buoyed sanguine and mystical minds on dreams of a reign
of God. When men feel a new and better power arising strongly about
them, they are forward to throw themselves into harmony with it, and
there were people, touched by the religious revival of the Reformation,
who sought to anticipate its progress, as it were, by living together
like brothers. Fraternity is undoubtedly a Christian idea, come into the
world with Christ, spread abroad in it by Christian agencies, and
belonging to the ideal that hovers perpetually over Christian society.
It has already produced social changes of immense consequence, and has
force in it, we cannot doubt, to produce many more in the future; and it
is therefore in nowise strange that in times of religious zeal or of
social distress, this idea of fraternity should appeal to some eager
natures with so urgent an authority, both of condemnation and of
promise, that they would fain take it at once by force and make it king.

The socialism of the present day is not of a religious origin. On the
contrary, there is some truth in the remark of a distinguished
economist, M. Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, that the prevalence of socialistic
ideas is largely due to the decline of religious faith among the working
classes. If there is only the one life, they feel they must realize
their ideal here and realize it quickly, or they will never realize it
at all. However this may be, the fact is certain that most contemporary
socialists have turned their backs on religion. They sometimes speak of
it with a kind of suppressed and settled bitterness as of a friend that
has proved faithless: "We are not atheists: we have simply done with
God." They seem to feel that if there be a God, He is, at any rate, no
God for them, that He is the God of the rich, and cares nothing for the
poor, and there is a vein of most touching, though most illogical,
reproach in their hostility towards a Deity whom they yet declare to
have no existence. They say in their heart, There is no God, or only one
whom they decline to serve, for He is no friend to the labouring man,
and has never all these centuries done anything for him. This atheism
seems as much matter of class antipathy as of free-thought; and the
semi-political element in it lends a peculiar bitterness to the
socialistic attacks on religion and the Church, which are regarded as
main pillars of the established order of things, and irreconcileable
obstructives to all socialist dreams. The Church has, therefore, as a
rule looked upon the whole movement with a natural and justifiable
suspicion, and has, for the most part, dispensed to it an indiscriminate
condemnation. Some Churchmen, however, scruple to assume this attitude;
they recognise a soul of good in the agitation, if it could be stripped
of the revolutionary and atheistic elements of its propaganda, which
they hold to be, after all, merely accidental accompaniments of the
system, at once foreign to its essence and pernicious to its purpose. It
is in substance, they say, an economic movement, both in its origin and
its objects, and so far as it stands on this ground they have no
hesitation in declaring that in their judgment there is a great deal
more Christianity in socialism than in the existing industrial _régime_.
Those who take this view, generally find a strong bond of union with
socialists in their common revolt against the mammonism of the
church-going middle classes, and against some current economic
doctrines, which seem almost to canonize what they count the heartless
and un-Christian principles of self-interest and competition.

Such, for example, was the position maintained by the Christian
Socialists of England thirty years ago--a band of noble patriotic men
who strove hard, by word and deed, to bring all classes of the community
to a knowledge of their duties, as well as their interests, and to
supersede, as far as might be, the system of unlimited competition by a
system of universal co-operation. They inveighed against the Manchester
creed, then in the flush of success, as if it were the special
Antichrist of the nineteenth century. Lassalle himself has not used
harder, more passionate, or more unjust words of it. Maurice said he
dreaded above everything "that horrible catastrophe of a Manchester
ascendancy, which I believe in my soul would be fatal to intellect,
morality, and freedom"; and Kingsley declared that "of all narrow,
conceited, hypocritical, anarchic, and atheistic schemes of the
universe, the Cobden and Bright one was exactly the worst." They agreed
entirely with the socialists in condemning the reigning industrial
system: it was founded on unrighteousness; its principles were not only
un-Christian, but anti-Christian; and in spite of its apparent
commercial victories, it would inevitably end in ruin and disaster. Some
of them had been in Paris and witnessed the Revolution of 1848, and had
brought back with them two firm convictions--one, that a purely
materialistic civilization, like that of the July Monarchy, must sooner
or later lead to a like fate; and the other, that the socialist idea of
co-operation contained the fertilizing germ for developing a really
enduring and Christian civilization. Mr. J. M. Ludlow mentioned the
matter to Maurice, and eventually a Society was formed, with Maurice as
president, for the purpose of promoting co-operation and education among
the working classes. It is beyond the scope of the present work to give
any fuller account of this interesting and not unfruitful movement here;
but it is to the purpose to mark two peculiarities which distinguish it
from other phases of socialism. One is, that they insisted strongly upon
the futility of mere external changes of condition, unattended by
corresponding changes of inner character and life. "There is no
fraternity," said Maurice, finely, "without a common Father." Just as it
is impossible to maintain free institutions among a people who want the
virtues of freemen, so it is impossible to realize fraternity in the
general arrangements of society, unless men possess a sufficient measure
of the industrial and social virtues. Hence the stress the Christian
Socialists of England laid on the education of the working classes. The
other peculiarity is, that they did not seek in any way whatever to
interfere with private property, or to invoke the assistance of the
State. They believed self-help to be a sounder principle, both morally
and politically, and they believed it to be sufficient. They held it to
be sufficient, not merely in course of time, but immediately even, to
effect a change in the face of society. For they loved and believed in
their cause with a generous and touching enthusiasm, and were so
sincerely and absolutely persuaded of its truth themselves, that they
hardly entertained the idea of other minds resisting it. "I certainly
thought," says Mr. I. Hughes, "(and for that matter have never altered
my opinion to this day) that here we had found the solution to the great
labour question; but I was also convinced that we had nothing to do but
just to announce it, and found an association or two, in order to
convert all England, and usher in the millennium at once, so plain did
the whole thing seem to me. I will not undertake to answer for the rest
of the council, but I doubt whether I was at all more sanguine than the
majority." Seventeen co-operative associations in London, and
twenty-four in the provinces (which were all they had established when
they ceased to publish their Journal), may seem a poor result, but their
work is not to be estimated by that alone. The Christian Socialists
undoubtedly gave a very important impetus to the whole movement of
co-operation, and to the general cause of the amelioration of the
labouring classes.

The general position of Maurice and his allies (though with important
differences, as will appear) has been taken up again by two groups in
Germany at the present day--one Catholic, the other Protestant--in
dealing with the social question which has for many years agitated that
country. In one respect the Christian Socialists of England were more
fortunate than their German brethren. Nobody ever ventured to question
the purity of their motives. The intervention of the clergy in politics
is generally unpopular: they are thought, rightly or wrongly, to be
Churchmen first, and patriots afterwards; but it was impossible to
suspect Maurice and his friends of being influenced in their efforts at
reform by considerations of ecclesiastical or electoral interest, or of
having any object at heart but the social good of the nation. It is
otherwise with the Christian Socialists of Germany. Neither of the two
German groups affects to conceal that one great aim of its work is to
restore and extend the influence of the Church among the labouring
classes; and it is unlikely that the Clerical party in Germany were
insensible to the political advantage of having organizations of working
men under ecclesiastical control, though it ought to be acknowledged
that these organizations were contemplated before the introduction of
universal suffrage. But even though ecclesiastical considerations
mingled with the motives of the Christian Socialists, we see no reason
to doubt the genuineness of their interest in the amelioration of the
masses, or the sincerity of their conviction of the economic soundness
of their programme.

The Catholic group deserves to be considered first, because it
intervened in the discussion much sooner than the Evangelical, and
because it originated a much more important movement--larger in its
dimensions than the other, and invested with additional consequence from
the circumstance that being promoted under the countenance of
dignitaries, it must be presumed to have received the sanction of the
Roman Curia, and may therefore afford an index to the general attitude
which the Catholic Church is disposed to assume towards Continental
socialism. The socialist agitation had no sooner broken out, in 1863,
than Dr. Döllinger, then a pillar of the Church of Rome, strongly
recommended the Catholic clubs of Germany to take the question up. These
clubs are societies for mutual improvement, recreation, and benefit, and
are composed mainly of working men. Father Kölping, himself at the time
a working man, had, in 1847, founded an extensive organization of
Catholic journeymen, which, in 1872, had a total membership of 70,000,
and consisted of an affiliation of small journeyman clubs, with a
membership of from 50 to 400 each, in the various towns of Germany. Then
there were also Catholic apprentice clubs--in many cases in alliance
with those of the journeymen; there were Catholic master clubs, Catholic
peasant clubs, Catholic benefit clubs, Catholic young men's clubs,
Catholic credit clubs, Catholic book clubs, etc., etc. These clubs
naturally afforded an organization ready to hand for any general purpose
the members might share in common, and being composed of working men,
they seemed reasonably calculated to be of effective service in
forwarding the cause of social amelioration. Early in 1864, accordingly,
Bishop Ketteler, of Mayence, warmly seconded Döllinger's idea, and at
the same time published a remarkable pamphlet on "The Labour Question
and Christianity," in which he unfolded his views of the causes and the
cure of the existing evils.

William Immanuel, Baron von Ketteler, had been for twenty years a
powerful and impressive figure in the public life of Germany. His high
rank, social and ecclesiastical, his immense energy, his weight of
character, his personal disinterestedness of purpose, and his
intellectual vigour and acuteness, had combined to give him great
importance both in Church and State. Born in 1811, of an ancient
Westphalian family, he was trained in law and politics for the public
service, and actually entered upon it, but resigned his post in 1838, in
consequence of the dispute about the Cologne bishopric, and resolved to
give himself to the work of the Church. After studying theology at
Munich and Münster, he was ordained priest in 1844, and became soon
afterwards pastor at Hopster, in Westphalia. Being sent as member for
Langerich to the German National Assembly at Frankfort in 1848, he at
once made his mark by the vigour with which he strove for the spiritual
independence of the Church, by the lectures and sermons he delivered on
questions of the day, and especially by a bold and generous oration he
pronounced at the grave of the assassinated deputy, Prince Lichnowsky.
This oration excited sensation all over Germany, and Ketteler was
promoted, in 1849, to the Hedwigsburg Church, in Berlin, and in 1850 to
the Bishopric of Mayence. In this position he found scope for all his
powers. He founded a theological seminary at Mayence, erected
orphan-houses and reformatories, introduced various religious orders and
congregationist schools, and entering energetically into the disputes in
Baden regarding the place and rights of the Catholic Church, he
succeeded in establishing an understanding whereby the State gave up
much of its patronage, its supervision of theological seminaries, its
veto on ecclesiastical arrangements, restored episcopal courts, and
assigned the Church extensive influence over popular education. He was
one of the bishops who authorized the dogma of the Immaculate Conception
in 1854, but he belonged to the opposition at the Vatican Council of
1870. He wrote a pamphlet strongly deprecating the promulgation of the
dogma of infallibility, and went, even at the last moment, to the Pope
personally, and implored him to abandon the idea of promulgating it; but
as his objection respected its opportuneness and not its truth, he did
not secede with Döllinger when his opposition failed, but accepted the
dogma himself and demanded the submission of his clergy to it. Bishop
Ketteler was returned to the German Imperial Diet in 1871, and led the
Clerical Faction in opposing the ecclesiastical policy of the
Government. He died at Binghausen, in Bavaria, in 1877, and is buried in
Mayence Cathedral. Ketteler had always been penetrated with the ambition
of making the Catholic Church a factor of practical importance in the
political and social life of Germany, and with the conviction that the
clergy ought to make themselves masters of social and political science
so as to be able to exercise a leading and effective influence over
public opinion on questions of social amelioration. He has himself
written much, though nothing of permanent value, on these subjects, and
did not approach them with unwashed hands when he published his pamphlet
in 1864.

In this pamphlet, he says the labour question is one which it is his
business, both as a Christian and as a bishop, to deal with: as a
Christian, because Christ, as Saviour of the world, seeks not only to
redeem men's souls, but to heal their sorrows and soften their
condition; and as a bishop, because the Church had, according to her
ancient custom, imposed upon him, as one of his consecration vows, that
he would, "in the name of the Lord, be kind and merciful to the poor and
the stranger, and to all that are in any kind of distress." He considers
the labour question of the present day to be the very serious and plain
question, how the great bulk of the working classes are to get the bread
and clothing necessary to sustain them in life. Things have come to this
pass in consequence of two important economic changes--which he
incorrectly ascribes to the political revolution at the end of last
century, merely because they have taken place mostly since that
date--the spread of industrial freedom, and the ascendancy of the large
capitalists. In consequence of these changes the labourer is now treated
as a commodity, and the rate of his wages settled by the same law that
determines the price of every other commodity--the cost of its
production; and the employer is always able to press wages down to the
least figure which the labourer will take rather than starve. Ketteler
accepts entirely Lassalle's teaching about "the iron and cruel law," and
holds it to have been so conclusively proved in the course of the
controversy that it is no longer possible to dispute it without a
deliberate intention of deceiving the people. Now there is no doubt that
Ricardo's law of value is neither so iron nor so cruel as Lassalle took
it to be; and that when Lassalle alleged that in consequence of this law
96 per cent. of the population of Germany had to support their families
on less than ten shillings a week, and were therefore in a state of
chronic starvation, he based his statement on a calculation of
Dieterici's, which was purely conjectural, and which, besides,
disregarded the fact that in working-class families there were usually
more breadwinners than one. Ketteler, however, adopts this whole
statement of the case implicitly, and says the social problem of our day
is simply how to emancipate the labouring class from the operation of
this economic law. "It is no longer possible to doubt that the whole
material existence of almost the entire labouring population--_i.e._, of
much the greatest part of men in modern states, and of their
families--that the daily question about the necessary bread for man,
wife, and children, is exposed to all the fluctuations of the market and
of the price of commodities. I know nothing more deplorable than this
fact. What sensations must it cause in those poor men who, with all they
hold dear, are day after day at the mercy of the accidents of market
price? That is the slave market of our Liberal Europe, fashioned after
the model of our humanist, rationalistic, anti-Christian Liberalism, and
freemasonry." The bishop never spares an opportunity of attacking
"heathen humanist Liberalism," which he says has pushed the labouring
man into the water, and now stands on the bank spinning fine theories
about his freedom, but calmly seeing him drown.

After this it might be expected that Ketteler would be all for
abolishing industrial freedom, and for restoring a _régime_ of
compulsory guilds and corporations; but he is not. He acknowledges that
the old system of guilds had its advantages; it was a kind of assured
understanding between the workman and society, according to which the
former adjusted his work and the latter his wages. But it was the abuses
of the compulsory powers of the guilds that led to industrial freedom;
and, on the other hand, industrial freedom has great countervailing
advantages of its own which he scruples to give up. It has immensely
increased production and cheapened commodities, and so enabled the lower
classes to enjoy means of life and enjoyment they had not before. Nor
does Ketteler approve of Lassalle's scheme of establishing productive
associations of working men upon capital supplied by the State. Not that
he objects to productive associations; on the contrary, he declares them
to be a glorious idea, and thinks them the true solution of the problem.
But he objects to supplying their capital by the State, as involving a
direct violation of the law of property. The Catholic Church, he says,
has never maintained an absolute right of property. Her divines have
unanimously taught that the right of property cannot avail against a
neighbour who is in extreme need, because God alone is absolute
proprietor, and no man is more than a limited vassal, holding under God,
and on the conditions which He imposes; and one of these conditions is
that any man in extremities is entitled to satisfy his necessity where
and how he pleases.[1] In such a case, according to Catholic doctrine,
it is not the man in distress that is the thief, but the proprietor who
would gainsay and stop him. The distressed have a positive right to
succour, and the State may therefore, without violating any of the
rights of property, tax the parishes, or the proprietors, for the relief
of the poor. But beyond this the State has no title to go. It may
legitimately tax people for the purpose of saving working men from
extremities, but not for the purpose of bettering their normal position.

But where the civil authority ends the Christian authority comes in, and
the rich have only escaped the obligation of compulsory legal enactment,
to find themselves under the more far-reaching obligations of moral duty
and Christian love. The Church declares that the man who does not give
alms where he ought to give it stands in the same category as a thief;
and there is no limit to this obligation but his power of giving help,
and his belief that it would be more hurtful to give than to keep it.
Ketteler's plan, accordingly, is that the capital for the productive
associations should be raised by voluntary subscriptions on the part of
Christian people. He thinks he has made out a strong case for
establishing this as a Christian obligation. He has shown that a
perilous crisis prevails, that this crisis can only be removed by
productive associations, that productive associations cannot be started
without capital, and he says it is a vain dream of Huber's to think of
getting the capital from the savings of working men themselves, for most
of the working men are in a distressed condition, and if a few are
better off, their savings could only establish associations so few in
number and so small in scale, as to be little better than trifling with
the evil. He sees no remedy but making productive associations a scheme
of the Church, and appealing to that Christian philanthropy and sense of
duty which had already done great service of a like nature--as, for
example, in producing capital to emancipate slaves in Italy and

This remarkable proposal of the bishop seems to have fallen dead. Though
he wrote and laboured much in connection with the labour question
afterwards, he never reverted to it again; and when a Christian
Socialist party was formed, under his countenance, they adopted a
programme which made large demands not only on the intervention, but on
the pecuniary help of the State. It was not till 1868 that any steps
were taken towards the actual organization of such a party. In June of
that year three Catholic clubs met together at Crefeld, and, after
discussing the social question, agreed to publish a journal (the
_Christliche Sociale Blätter_) to promote their views. In September of
the following year the whole subject of the relations of the Church to
the labour question was discussed at a conference of the Catholic
bishops of Germany, held at Fulda, and attended by Ketteler among
others. This conference strongly recommended the clergy to make
themselves thoroughly acquainted with that and other economic questions,
to interest themselves generally in the condition of the working class
they moved among, and even to travel in foreign countries to see the
state of the labourers there and the effects of the institutions
established for their amelioration. The conference also approved of the
formation of Catholic Labourers' Associations, for the promotion of the
general elevation of their own class, but held that the Church had no
call, directly or officially, to take the initiative in founding them.
This duty was undertaken, however, later in the same month, by a general
meeting of the Catholic Clubs of Germany, which appointed a special
committee, including Professor Schulte and Baron Schorlemer-Abst, for
the express purpose of founding and organizing Christian social clubs,
which should strive for the economic and moral amelioration of the
labouring classes. This committee set itself immediately to work, and
the result was the Christian Social Associations, or, as they are
sometimes called from their patron saint, the St. Joseph Associations.
They were composed of, and managed by, working men, though they liked to
have some man of eminence--never a clergyman--at the head of them, and
though they allowed persons, of property, clergymen, and especially
employers of labour, to be honorary members. They met every Sunday
evening to discuss social questions, and politics were excluded, except
questions affecting the Church, and on these a decided partisanship was

The principles of this party--or what may be called their programme--is
explained in a speech delivered by Canon Moufang to his constituents in
Mayence, in February, 1871, and published with warm approbation, in the
_Christliche Sociale Blätter_ in March. Christoph Moufang is, like
Ketteler, a leader of the German Clerical party, and entitled to the
highest esteem for his character, his intellectual parts, and his public
career. Born in 1817, he was first destined for the medical profession,
and studied physic at Bonn; but he soon abandoned this intention, and
betook himself to theology. After studying at Bonn and Munich, he was
ordained priest in 1839. He was appointed in 1851 professor of moral and
pastoral theology in the new theological seminary which Bishop Ketteler
had founded at Mayence, and in 1854 was made canon of the cathedral.
Moufang entered the First Hessian Chamber in 1862 as representative of
the bishop, and made a name as a powerful champion of High Church views
and of the general ecclesiastical policy of Bishop Ketteler. In 1868 he
was chosen one of the committee to make preparations for the Vatican
Council; but at the Council he belonged to the opponents of the dogma of
infallibility, and left Rome before the dogma was promulgated. He
submitted afterwards, however, and worked sedulously in its sense.
Moufang sat in the Imperial Diet from 1871 to 1877, was a leading member
of the Centre, and stoutly resisted the Falk legislation. He is
joint-editor of the _Katholik_, and is author of various polemical
writings, and of a work on the history of the Jesuits in Germany.

Moufang takes a different view of the present duty of the Church in
relation to the social question from that which we saw to have been
taken by Ketteler. He asks for no pecuniary help from the Church, nor
for any special and novel kind of activity whatever. The problem cannot,
in his opinion, be effectively and permanently solved without her
co-operation, but then the whole service she is able and required to
render is contained in the course of her ordinary ministrations in
diffusing a spirit of love and justice and fairness among the various
classes of society, in maintaining her charities for the poor and
helpless in dispensing comfort and distress, and in offering to the
weary the hope of a future life. Moufang makes much more demand on the
State than on the Church, in this also disagreeing with Bishop
Ketteler's pamphlet. He says the State can and must help the poorer
classes in four different ways:--

1st. By giving legislative protection. Just as the landlord and the
money-lender are legally protected in their rights by the State, so the
labourer ought to be legally protected in his property, which are his
powers and time of labour. The State ought to give him legal security
against being robbed of these, his only property, by the operation of
free competition. With this view, Moufang demands the legalization of
working men's associations of various kinds, the prohibition of Sunday
labour, the legal fixing of a normal day of labour, legal restriction of
labour of women and children, legal provision against unwholesome
workshops, appointment of factory inspectors, and direct legal fixing of
the rate of wages. The last point is an important peculiarity in the
position of the Catholic Socialists. Moufang contends that competition
is a sound enough principle for regulating the price of commodities, but
that it is a very unsound one, and a very unsafe one, for determining
the price of labour, because he holds that labour is not a commodity.
Labour is a man's powers of life; it is the man himself, and the law
must see to its protection. The law protects the capitalist in his right
to his interest, and surely the labouring man's powers of life are
entitled to the same consideration. If an employer says to a capitalist
from whom he has borrowed money: "A crisis has come, a depression in
trade, and I am no longer able to pay such high interest; I will pay you
two-thirds or one-third of the previous rate," what does the capitalist
say? He refuses to take it, and why? Simply because he knows that the
law will sustain him in his claim. But if the employer says to his
labourer: "A depression of trade has come, and I cannot afford you more
than two-thirds or one-third of your present wages," what can the
labourer do? He has no alternative. He must take the wages offered him
or go, and to go means to starve. Why should not the law stand at the
labourer's back, as it does at the capitalist's, in enforcing what is
right and just? There is no more infraction of freedom in the one case
than in the other. Moufang's argument here is based on an illusive
analogy; for in the contract for the use of capital the employer agrees
to pay a fixed rate of interest so long as he retains the principal, and
he can only avail himself of subsequent falls in the money market by
returning the principal and opening a fresh contract; whereas in the
contract for the use of labour the employer engages by the week or the
day, returning the principal, as it were, at the end of that term, and
making a new arrangement. The point to be noted, however, is that
Moufang's object, like Ketteler's, is to deliver working men from their
hand-to-mouth dependence on the current fluctuations of the market; that
he thinks there is something not merely pernicious but radically unjust
in their treatment under the present system; and that he calls upon the
State to institute some regular machinery--a board with compulsory
powers, and composed of labourers and magistrates--for fixing everywhere
and in every trade a fair day's wages for a fair day's work.

2nd. The State ought to give pecuniary help. It advances money on easy
terms to railway schemes; why should it not offer working men cheap
loans for sound co-operative enterprises? Of course it ought to make a
keen preliminary examination of the projects proposed, and keep a sharp
look-out against swindling or ill-considered schemes; but if the project
is sound and likely, it should be ready to lend the requisite capital at
a low interest. This proposal of starting productive associations on
State credit is an important divergence from Ketteler, who, in his
pamphlet, condemns it as a violation of the rights of property.

3rd. The State ought to reduce the taxes and military burdens of the
labouring classes.

4th. The State ought to fetter the domination of the money power, and
especially to check excesses of speculation, and control the operations
of the Stock Exchange.

From this programme it appears that the Catholic movement goes a long
way with the socialists in their cries of wrong, but only a short way in
their plans of redress. Moufang's proposals may be wise or unwise, but
they contemplate only corrections of the present industrial system, and
not its reconstruction. Many Liberals are disposed to favour the idea of
establishing courts of conciliation with compulsory powers, and Bismarck
himself once said, before the socialists showed themselves unpatriotic
at the time of the French war, that he saw no reason why the State,
which gave large sums for agricultural experiments, should not spend
something in giving co-operative production a fair trial. The plans of
labour courts and of State credit to approved co-operative undertakings
are far from the socialist schemes of the abolition of private property
in the instruments of production, and the systematic regulation of all
industry by the State; and they afford no fair ground for the fear,
which many persons of ability entertain, of "an alliance"--to use
Bismarck's phrase--"between the black International and the red." Bishop
Martensen holds Catholicism to be essentially socialistic, because it
suppresses all individual rights and freedom in the intellectual sphere,
as socialism does in the economic. But men may detest private judgment
without taking the least offence at private property. A bigot need not
be a socialist, any more than a socialist a bigot, though each stifles
the principle of individuality in one department of things. If there is
to be any alliance between the Church and socialism, it will be not
because the former has been trained, under an iron organization, to
cherish a horror of individuality and a passion for an economic
organization as rigid as its own ecclesiastical one, but it will be
because the Church happens to have a distinct political interest at the
time in cultivating good relations with a new political force. How far
Moufang and his associates have been influenced by this kind of
consideration we cannot pretend to judge, but the sympathy they show is
not so much with the socialists as with the labouring classes generally,
and their movement is meant so far to take the wind from socialism,
whether with the mere view of filling their own sails with it or no.

No voice was raised in the Protestant Churches in Germany on the social
question till 1878. They suffer from their absolute dependence on the
State, and have become churches of doctors and professors, without
effective practical interest or initiative, and without that strong
popular sympathy of a certain kind which almost necessarily pervades the
atmosphere of a Church like the Catholic, which pits itself against
States, and knows that its power of doing so rests, in the last
analysis, on its hold over the hearts of the people. The Home Missionary
Society indeed discussed the question from time to time, but chiefly in
connection with the effects of the socialist propaganda on the religious
condition of the country; and it was this aspect of the subject that
eventually stirred a section of the orthodox Evangelical clergy to take
practical action. They asked themselves how it was that the working
classes were so largely adopting the desolate atheistic opinions which
were found associated with the socialist movement, when the Church
offered to gather them under her wing, and brighten their life with the
comforts and encouragements of Christian faith and hope. They felt
strongly that they must take more interest in the temporal welfare of
the working classes than they had hitherto done, and must apply the
ethical and social principles of Christianity to the solution of
economic problems and the promotion of social reform. In short, they
sought to present Christianity as the labourer's friend. The leaders of
this movement were men of much inferior calibre to those of the
corresponding Catholic movement. The principal of them were Rudolph
Todt, a pastor at Barentheim in Old Preignitz, who published in 1878 a
book on "Radical German Socialism and Christian Society," which created
considerable sensation; and Dr. Stöcker, then one of the Court preachers
at Berlin, a member of the Prussian Diet, and an ardent promoter of
reactionary policy in various directions. He is a warm advocate of
denominational education, and of extending the power of the Crown, of
the State, and of the landed class; and he was a prime mover in the
Jew-baiting movement which excited Germany a few years ago. This
antipathy to the Jews has been for many years a cardinal tendency of the
"Agrarians," a small political group mainly of nobles and great landed
proprietors, with whom Stöcker frequently allies himself, and who
profess to treat all political questions from a strictly Christian
standpoint, but work almost exclusively to assert the interests of the
landowners against the growing ascendancy of the commercial and
financial classes, among whom Jews occupy an eminent place. We mention
this anti-Jewish agitation here to point out that, while no doubt fed by
other passions also, one of its chief ingredients is that same
antagonism to the _bourgeoisie_--compounded of envy of their success,
contempt for their money-seeking spirit, and anger at their supposed
expropriation of the rest of society--which animates all forms of
continental socialism, and has already proved a very dangerous political
force in the French Revolution of 1848.

Todt's work is designed to set forth the social principles and mission
of Christianity on the basis of a critical investigation of the New
Testament, which he believes to be an authoritative guide on economic as
well as moral and dogmatic questions. He says that to solve the social
problem, we must take political economy in the one hand, the scientific
literature of socialism in the other, and keep the New Testament before
us. As the result of his examination, he condemns the existing
industrial _régime_ as being decidedly unchristian, and declares the
general principles of socialism, and even its main concrete proposals,
to be directly prescribed and countenanced by Holy Writ. Like all who
assume the name of socialist, he cherishes a marked repugnance to the
economic doctrines of modern Liberalism, the leaven of the
_bourgeoisie_; and much of his work is devoted to show the inner
affinity of Christianity and socialism, and the inner antagonism between
Christianity and Manchesterdom. He goes so far as to say that every
active Christian who makes conscience of his faith has a socialistic
vein in him, and that every socialist, however hostile he may be to the
Christian religion, has an unconscious Christianity in his heart;
whereas, on the other hand, the merely nominal Christian, who has never
really got out of his natural state, is always a spiritual Manchestrist,
worshipping _laissez faire, laissez aller_, with his whole soul, and
that a Manchestrist is never in reality a true and sound Christian,
however much he may usurp the name. Christianity and socialism are
engaged in a common work, trying to make the reality of things
correspond better with an ideal state; and in doing their work they rely
on the same ethical principle, the love of our neighbour, and they
repudiate the Manchester idolatry of self-interest. The socialist ideas
of liberty, equality, and fraternity are part and parcel of the
Christian system; and the socialist ideas of solidarity of interests, of
co-operative production, and of democracy have all a direct Biblical
foundation, in the constitution and customs of the Church, and in the
apostolic teaching regarding it.

Radical socialism, according to Todt, consists of three elements: first,
in economics, communism; second, in politics, republicanism; third, in
religion, atheism. Under the last head, of course, there is no analogy,
but direct contradiction, between Socialism and Christianity; but Todt
deplores the atheism that prevails among the socialists as not merely an
error, but a fatal inconsistency. If socialism would but base its
demands on the Gospel, he says, it would be resistless, and all
labourers would flow to it; but atheistic socialism can never fulfil its
own promises, and issues a draft which Christianity alone has the power
to meet. It is hopeless to think of founding an enduring democratic
State on the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity, unless
these principles are always sustained and reinvigorated by the Divine
fraternal love that flows from faith in Jesus Christ.

As to the second principle of socialism, Todt says, that while Holy
Scripture contains no direct prescription on the point, it may be
inferentially established that a republic is the form of government that
is most harmonious with the Christian ideal. His deduction of this is
peculiar. The Divine government of the world, he owns, is monarchical,
but then it is a government which cannot be copied by sinful men, and
therefore cannot have been meant as a pattern for them. But God, he
says, has established His Church on earth as a visible type of His own
invisible providential government, and the Church is a "republic under
an eternal President, sitting by free choice of the people, Jesus
Christ." This is both fanciful and false, for Christ is an absolute
ruler, and no mere minister of the popular will; and there is not the
remotest ground for founding a system of Biblical politics on the
constitution of the Church. But it shows the length Todt is disposed to
go to conciliate the favour of the socialists.

But the most important element of socialism is its third or economic
principle--communism; and this he represents to be entirely in harmony
with the economic ideal of the New Testament. He describes the
communistic idea as consisting of two parts: first, the general
principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity, which he finds directly
involved in the Scriptural doctrines of moral responsibility, of men's
common origin and redemption, and of the law of love; and second, the
transformation of all private property in the instruments of production
into common property, which includes three points: (_a_) the abolition
of the present wages system; (_b_) giving the labourer the full product
of his labour; and (_c_) associated labour. As to the first two of these
points, Todt pronounces the present wages system to be thoroughly
unjust, because it robs the labourer of the full product of his labour;
and because unjust, it is unchristian. He accepts the ordinary socialist
teaching about "the iron and cruel law." He accepts, too, Marx's theory
of value, and declares it to be unanswerable; and he therefore finds no
difficulty in saying that Christianity condemns a system which in his
opinion grinds the faces of the labouring classes with incessant toil,
filches from them the just reward of their work, and leaves them to
hover hopelessly on the margin of destitution. If there is any scheme
that promises effectually to cure this condition of things, Christianity
will also approve of that scheme; and such a scheme he discovers in the
socialist proposal of collective property and associated labour. This
proposal, however, derives direct countenance, he maintains, from the
New Testament. It is supported by the texts which describe the Church as
an organism under the figure of a body with many members, by the example
of the common bag of the twelve, and by the communism of the primitive
Church of Jerusalem. But the texts about the Church as an organism have
no real bearing on the subject at all; for the Church is not meant to be
an authoritative pattern either for political or for economic
organization; and besides, the figure of the body and its members would
apply better to Bastiat's theory of the natural harmony of interests
than to the socialist idea of the solidarity of interests. Then the
common bag of the disciples did not prevent them from having boats and
other instruments of production of their own individual property; and we
know that the communism of the primitive Church of Jerusalem (which was
a decided economic failure, for the poverty of that Church had to be
repeatedly relieved by collections in other parts of Christendom) was
not a community of property, but, what is a higher thing, a community of
use, and that it was not compulsory but spontaneous.

Todt, however, after seeming thus to commit himself and Christianity
without reserve to socialism, suddenly shrinks from his own boldness,
and draws back. Collective property may be countenanced by Scripture,
but he finds private property to be as much or even more so; and he
cannot on any consideration consent to the abolition of private property
by force. It was right enough to abolish slavery by force, for slavery
is an unchristian institution. But though private property is certainly
founded on selfishness, there are so many examples of it presented
before us in the New Testament without condemnation, that Todt shrinks
from pronouncing it to be an unchristian institution. Collective
property may be better, but private property will never disappear till
selfishness is swallowed up of love; and a triumph of socialism at
present, while its disciples are unbelievers and have not Christ, the
fount of love, in their hearts, would involve society in much more
serious evils than those which it seeks to remove. Todt's socialism,
therefore, is not a thing of the present, but an ideal of the distant
future, to be realized after Christian proprietors have come of their
own accord to give up their estates, and socialists have all been
converted to Christianity. For the present, in spite of his stern view
of the great wrong and injustice the working classes suffer, Todt has no
remedy to suggest, except that things would be better if proprietors
learnt more to regard their wealth as a trust of which they were only
stewards, and if employers treated their workmen with the personal
consideration due to Christian brothers; and he thinks the cultivation
of this spirit ought to be more expressly aimed at in the work of the
Church. This is probably, after all, the sum of what Christianity has to
say on the subject; but it seems a poor result of so much figuring and
flourishing, to end in a general truth which can give no offence even in

Soon after the publication of Todt's book, Stöcker and some Evangelical
friends founded two associations, for the purpose of dealing with the
social question from a Christian point of view, and established a
newspaper, the _Staats-Socialist_, to advocate their opinions. Of the
two associations, one, the Central Union for Social Reform, was composed
of persons belonging to the educated classes--professors, manufacturers,
landowners, and clergymen; and the other, the Christian Social Working
Men's Party, consisted of working men alone. This movement was received
on all sides with unqualified disapprobation. The press, Liberal and
Conservative alike, spoke with contemptuous dislike of this
_Mucker-Socialismus_, and said they preferred the socialists in blouse
to the socialists in surplice. The Social Democrats rose against it with
virulence, and held meetings, both of men and of women, at which they
glorified atheism and bitterly attacked the clergy and religion. Even
the higher dignitaries of the Church held coldly aloof or were even
openly hostile. Stöcker met all this opposition with unflinching spirit,
convened public meetings in Berlin to promote his cause, and confronted
the socialist leaders on the platform. The movement gave promise of fair
success. In a few months seven hundred pastors, besides many from other
professions, including Dr. Koegel, Court preacher, and Dr. Buchsel, a
German Superintendent, had enrolled themselves in the Central Union for
Social Reform; and the Christian Social Working Men's Party had
seventeen hundred members in Berlin, and a considerable number
throughout the provinces. But its progress was interrupted by the
Anti-Socialist Law, passed soon after the same year, which put an end to
meetings of socialists; and since this measure was supported, though
hesitatingly, by Stöcker and his leading allies, that impaired their
influence with the labouring classes.

The principles of this party, as stated in their programme, may be said
generally to be that a decided social question exists, in the
increasing gulf between rich and poor, and the increasing want of
economic security in the labourer's life; that this question cannot
possibly be solved by social democracy, because social democracy is
unpractical, unchristian, and unpatriotic; and that it can only be
solved by means of an extensive intervention on the part of a strong and
monarchical State, aided by the religious factors in the national life.
The State ought to provide by statute a regular organization of the
working classes according to their trades, authorizing the trades unions
to represent the labourers as against their employers, rendering these
unions legally liable for the contracts entered into by their members,
assuming a control of their funds, regulating the apprentice system,
creating compulsory insurance funds, etc. Then it ought to protect the
labourers by prohibiting Sunday labour, by fixing a normal day of
labour, and by insisting on the sound sanitary condition of workshops.
Further, it ought to manage the State and communal property in a spirit
favourable to the working class, and to introduce high luxury taxes, a
progressive income-tax, and a progressive legacy duty, both according to
extent of bequest and distance of relationship. These very comprehensive
reforms are, however, held to be inadequate without the spread of a
Christian spirit of mutual consideration into the relations of master
and workman, and of Christian faith, hope, and love into family life.
Moreover they are not to be expected from a parliamentary government in
which the commercial classes have excessive influence, and hence the
Christian Socialists lay great stress on the monarchical element, and
would give the monarch absolute power to introduce social reforms
without parliamentary co-operation and even in face of parliamentary
opposition. We have seen that Todt was disposed to favour a republican
form of government, but probably, like the Czar Nicholas, he has no
positive objection to any other save the constitutional. His party has
certainly adopted a very Radical social programme, but it is above all a
Conservative group, seeking to resist the revolutionary and
materialistic tendencies of socialism, and to rally the great German
working class once more round the standard of God, King, and Fatherland.

Dr. Stöcker has during the past year resuscitated his Christian
Socialist organization under the name of the Social Monarchical Union,
but without any prospect of much success; for its founder, as the result
of his twelve years' bustling in the troubled waters of politics, has
fallen out of favour alike with court, Church, and people. He has lost
his place as royal chaplain, he is bitterly distrusted by the working
classes, and his socialist opinions are a great rock of offence to his
ecclesiastical brethren. A congress under Church auspices was held at
Berlin on May 28th and 29th, 1890, and it was called the Evangelical
Social Congress, as was explained by Professor A. Wagner, the economist,
in his inaugural speech, to avoid being connected with the Christian
Socialists. Dr. Stöcker read a paper at it on social democracy, which
raised a storm of dissension, mainly for its attack upon the Jews. This
congress, it may be noted, asked nothing from Government but a little
attention to the housing of the poor, and its chief recommendations were
(1) that every parish be organized under the social-political as well as
spiritual supervision of the clergy; (2) that Evangelical Working Men's
Unions be established in all industrial centres; (3) that benevolent or
friendly societies be organized for all trades, such as exist now in
mining; (4) that since social democracy threatened the Divine and human
order of society, and could only be successfully opposed by the power of
the gospel, a responsible mission lay upon the Church to combat and
counteract it. This mission was to be accomplished in two ways: first,
by awakening in all Evangelical circles the conviction that the present
social crisis was due to a universal national guilt, the guilt of
materialistic learning and living; and, second, by awakening masters to
a sense of their duty to their men, as morally their equals, and by
awakening the men to a sense of the moral vocation of the masters. In
other words, the social mission of the Church, according to the dominant
opinion at this congress, was just to do its ordinary work of preaching
repentance, faith, and love, and was much better represented by Dr.
Stöcker's Home Missionary Society than by his Social Monarchical Union.

On this question of the duty of the Church with regard to the social
amelioration of the people, there are everywhere two opposite
tendencies of opinion. One says there is no specific Christian social
politics, and that the Church can never have a specific social-political
programme. Slavery is undoubtedly inconsistent with the moral spirit of
the gospel, but St. Paul was not an emancipationist in practical life.
He neither raises the question of emancipation as a matter of political
agitation, nor does he bid, or beg, his friend Philemon to set Onesimus
at liberty, but to receive him as a brother beloved; just as any of St.
Paul's successors might enjoin a Christian master to treat his Christian
servant. Christianity is an inspiration, and may be expected to change
the character of social relations as it changes the character of men;
but political programmes are always things of opportunity and temporary
compromise, and it would be very unadvisable to run at any moment a
Christian political party, because it would necessarily make
Christianity responsible for imperfections incident to party politics,
and lessen rather than help the weight of its testimony in the world.

Then, on the other hand, there are those who hold that there is a
specific Christian social politics; that there is a distinct social and
political system, either directly enjoined by Holy Writ, or
inferentially resulting from it, so as to be truly a system of Divine
right. That is the claim put forward by Dr. Stöcker for his system of
social monarchy, and it is the position of sundry other groups of
socialists, who base their policy on the agrarian ordinances of Moses,
or the communism of the primitive Churches, or the general spirit of the
teaching of Jesus Christ. But Christian Socialism, in any of these
forms, is evidently at a discount in the Evangelical Church in Germany;
and the representative men in that Church, whatever they may do as
private citizens, would seem to refrain, perhaps too jealously, from
formulating in the name of religion any demands for the action of the
State in the social question.

Indeed, among Protestants, what is called Christian Socialism is little
more than a vagrant opinion in any country; but among Catholics it has
grown into a considerable international movement, and has in several
States--especially in Austria--left its mark on legislation. The
movement was started in Austria by a Protestant, Herr Rudolph Meyer, the
well-known author of the "Emancipationskampf des Arbeit" and other
works; but he was influentially and effectively seconded by Prince von
Liechtenstein, Counts Blome and Kuefstein, and Herr von Vogelsang, who
is now editor of the special organ of the movement, the _Vaterland_, of
Vienna. In France there had long been a school of Catholic social
reformers, the disciples of the Economist Le Play, and they are still
associated in the Society of Social Peace, and advocate their views in
the periodical _La Réforme Sociale_. They are believers in liberty,
however, and would not be called socialists. But there are now two newer
schools of Catholic social reformers, who declare their aim to be the
re-establishment of Christian principles in the world of labour, but are
divided on the point of State intervention.

The school who believe in State intervention are the more numerous; they
are led by Count Albert de Mun and the Marquis de la Tour de Pin
Chambly, have a separate organ, _L'Association Catholique_, and are
supported by a large organization of Catholic workmen's clubs, founded
by Count de Mun. There were 450 of these clubs in 1880, and they combine
the functions of a religious club, a co-operative store, and a friendly
society. The school who uphold the principle of liberty also publish an
organ, _L'Union Economique_, edited by the Franciscan Father le Basse,
and their best known leaders are two Jesuit priests, Fathers Forbes and
Caudron. There is likewise a Catholic Socialist movement in Switzerland
and Belgium, in both cases strongly in favour of State intervention;
and, indeed, Italy is the only Catholic country in which the Church
holds aloof from the social movement, forgetting the unusual miseries of
the people in an ignoble sulk over the loss of the Pope's temporal

The friends of this movement have now held three international
congresses at Liège. The third was held in September, 1890, under the
presidency of the bishop of the diocese, and was attended by 1500
delegates, including eight or ten bishops and many Catholic statesmen
and peers from all countries. Lord Ashburnham and the Bishops of Salford
and Nottingham represented England, and there were representatives from
Germany, Poland, Austria, Spain, and France, but none from Italy. The
Pope himself sent a special envoy with an address, and among letters
from eminent Catholic leaders who were unable to be present in person
was one from Cardinal Manning, which made a little sensation, but was
received with decided sympathy, though the Pope afterwards disavowed it
to some extent. The Cardinal expressed strong approval of trade unions,
and of State intervention to fix the hours of labour to eight hours for
miners and ten hours for less arduous trades, and he declared his
conviction that no pacific solution of the conflict between capital and
labour was possible till the State regulated profits and wages according
to some fixed scale which should be subject to revision every three or
four years, and by which all free contracts between employers and
employed should be adjusted.

The Congress went over the whole gamut of social questions, and
exhibited the usual conflict of opinion between the party of liberty and
the party of authority; but the party of authority, the "Statolaters" as
they are called, had evidently the great majority of the assembly. The
party of liberty were chiefly Frenchmen and Belgians, men like Fathers
Forbes and Caudron, already mentioned, or M. Woeste, the leader of the
Catholic party in Belgium, who said he believed in moral suasion only,
and that he feared the State and hated Cæsarism. The party of authority
were German and English. But whatever they thought of State
intervention, all parties were one about the necessity of Church
intervention. Without the Catholic Church there could be no solution of
the social question. Cardinal Manning said, a few days before the
Congress, that the labour question now raised everywhere must go on till
it was solved somehow, and that the only universal influence that could
guide it was the presence and prudence of the Catholic Church. The
Congress passed recommendations about technical education, better homes
for working people, shorter hours, intemperance, strikes, prison labour,
international factory legislation. It proposed the institution of trade
unions, comprising both employers and employed, as the best means of
promoting working-class improvement. In the towns these unions might
have distinct sections for the different trades; but in the country this
subdivision was not requisite. Every parish should have its trade
union, and the whole should be united in a federation, like the
Boerenbond, or Peasants' League, lately established in some parts of
Belgium, and which the Congress recommended to the attention of
Catholics. It recommended also the establishment of a pension fund for
aged labourers under State guarantee, but without any compulsory
exaction of premiums, and without any special State subsidy; and it
received with favour a proposal by the Spanish divine, Professor
Rodriguez de Cegrada, of Valencia, for papal arbitration in
international labour questions.

This Catholic Socialist movement shows no disposition to coquet with
revolutionary socialism; on the contrary, its leaders often say one of
their express objects is to counteract that agitation--to produce the
counter-revolution, as they sometimes put it. They are under no mistake
about the nature or bearing of socialist doctrines. Our Christian
Socialists in London accept the doctrines of Marx, and hold the
labourer's right to the full product of his labour to be a requirement
of Christian ethics, and the orators at English Church Congresses often
speak of socialism as if it were a higher perfection of Christianity.
But Catholic Socialists understand their Christianity and their
socialism better than to make any such identifications, and regard the
doctrines and organizations of revolutionary socialism in the spirit of
the firm judgment expressed in the Pope's encyclical of 28th December,
1878, which said that "so great is the difference between their (the
socialists') wicked dogmas and the pure doctrine of Christ that there
can be no greater; for what participation has justice with injustice, or
what communion has light with darkness?" This plain, gruff renunciation
is on the whole much truer than the amiable patronage of a very
distinguished Irish bishop at the Church Congress of 1887, who said
socialism was only a product of Christian countries, (what of the
socialism of savage tribes, or of the Mahdi, or of the Chinese?) that
the sentiment and aspiration of socialism were distinctly Christian, and
that every Christian is a bit of a socialist, and every socialist a bit
of a Christian. Socialism may proceed from an aspiration after social
justice, but a mistaken view of social justice is, I presume, really
injustice; and, as the Pope says, what communion can there practically
be between justice and injustice? Idolatry is a mistaken view of Divine
things--a distortion of the religious sentiment; but who would on that
account call it Christian? The socialist may be at heart a lover of
justice; he may love it, if you will, above his fellows; but what
matters the presence of the sentiment if the system he would realize it
by is ruled essentially by a principle of injustice? Justice, the
greatest and rarest of the virtues, is also the most difficult and the
most easily perverted. It needs a balance of mind, and in its
application to complicated and wide-reaching social arrangements, an
exactitude of knowledge and clearness of understanding which are ill
replaced by sentimentalism, or even by honest feeling; and the fault of
the current talk about Christian Socialism and the identity of socialism
with Christianity is that it does not conduce to this clearness of
understanding, which is the first requisite for any useful dealing with
such questions. If socialism is just, it is Christian--that seems the
sum of the matter. But do socializing bishops believe it to be just? Do
they believe, as all socialists believe, that it is unjust for one man
to be paid five thousand pounds a year, while his neighbours, with far
harder and more drudging work, cannot make forty pounds? or do they
believe it wrong for a man to live on interest, or rents, or profits? or
would they have the law lay its hands on property and manufactures, in
order to correct this wrong and give every man the income to which he
would be entitled on socialist principles? It is good, no doubt, to have
more equality and simplicity and security of living; but these
aspirations are neither peculiar to Christianity nor to socialism.


[1] The bishop draws this conclusion from the principle that God has
directed all men to nature to obtain from it the satisfaction of their
necessary wants, and that this original right of the needy cannot be
superseded by the subsequent institution of private property. No doubt,
he admits, that institution is also of God. It is the appointed way by
which man's dominion over nature is to be realized, because it is the
way in which nature is best utilized for the higher civilization of man.
But this purpose is secondary and subordinate to the other. And,
therefore, concludes the bishop, "firmly as theology upholds the right
of private property, it asserts at the same time that the higher right
by which all men are directed to nature's supplies dare not be
infringed, and that, consequently, any one who finds himself in extreme
need is justified, when other means fail, in satisfying this extreme
need where and how he may (wo und wie er es vermag)."--_Die
Arbeiter-frage und das Christenthum_ (p. 78).



The latest offspring of revolutionary opinion--and the most
misshapen--is anarchism. Seven or eight years ago the word was scarcely
known; but then, as if on a sudden, rumours of the anarchists and their
horrid "propaganda of deed" echoed in, one upon another, from almost
every country in the old world and the new. To-day they were haranguing
mobs of unemployed in Lyons and Brussels under a black flag--the black
flag of hunger, which, they explained, knows no law. To-morrow they were
goading the peasants of Lombardy or Naples to attack the country houses
of the gentry, and lay the vineyards waste. Presently they were found
attempting to assassinate the German Emperor at Niederwald, or laying
dynamite against the Federal Palace at Bern; or a troop of them had set
off over Europe on a quixotic expedition of miscellaneous revenge on
powers that be, and were reported successively as having killed a
_gendarme_ in Strasburg, a policeman in Vienna, and a head of the
constabulary in Frankfort. Before these reports had time to die in our
ears, fresh tales would arrive of anarchists pillaging the bakers' shops
in Paris, or exulting over the murder of a mining manager at
Decazeville, or flinging bombs among the police of Chicago; and it
seemed as if a new party of disorder had broke loose upon the world,
busier and more barbarous than any that went before it.

It is no new party, however; it is merely the extremer element in the
modern socialist movement. Mr. Hyndman and other socialists would fain
disclaim the anarchists altogether, and are fond of declaring that they
are the very opposite of socialists--that they are individualists of the
boldest stamp. But this contention will not stand. There are
individualist anarchists, no doubt. The anarchists of Boston, in
America, are individualists; one of the two groups of English anarchists
in London is individualist; but these individualist anarchists are very
few in number anywhere, and the mass of the party whose deeds made a
stir on both sides of the Atlantic is undoubtedly more socialist than
the socialists themselves. I have said in a previous chapter that the
socialism of the present day may be correctly described in three words
as Revolutionary Socialist Democracy, and in every one of these three
characteristics the anarchists go beyond other socialists, instead of
falling short of them. They are really more socialist, more democratic,
and more revolutionary than the rest of their comrades. They are more
socialist, because they are disposed to want not only common property
and common production, but common enjoyment of products as well. They
are more democratic, because they will have no government of any kind
over the people except the people themselves--no king or committee, no
representative institutions, either imperial or local, but merely every
little industrial group of people managing its public affairs as it will
manage its industrial work. And they are more revolutionary, for they
have no faith, even temporarily, in constitutional procedure, and think
making a little trouble is always the best way of bringing on a big
revolution. Other socialists prepare the way for revolution by a
propaganda of word; but the anarchists believe they can hasten the day
best by the propaganda of deed. Like the violent sections of all other
parties, they injure and discredit the party they belong to, and they
often attack the more moderate section with greater bitterness than
their common enemy; but they certainly belong to socialism, both in
origin and in principle. There were anarchists among the Young Hegelian
socialists of Germany fifty years ago. The Anti-socialist Laws bred a
swarm of anarchists among the German socialists in 1880, who left under
Most and Hasselmann, and carried to America the seed which led to the
outrages of Chicago. The Russian nihilists were anarchists from the
beginning; they broke up the International with their anarchism twenty
years ago, and they are among the chief disseminators of anarchism in
England and France to-day, because to the Russians anarchism is only the
socialism and the democracy of the rural communes in which they were
born. Socialists themselves are often obliged to admit the embarrassing
affinity. Dr. and Mrs. Aveling complain, in their "Labour Movement in
America," that while "the Chicago capitalist wanted us to be hanged
after we had landed, Herr Most's paper, _Die Freiheit_, was for shooting
us at sight"; that "anarchism ruined the International movement, threw
back the Spanish, Italian, and French movements for many years, has
proved a hindrance in America, and so much or so little of it as exists
in England is found by the revolutionary socialist party a decided
nuisance"; but they admit that "well nigh every word spoken by the chief
defendants at the Chicago trial could be endorsed by socialists, for
they then preached not anarchism, but socialism. Indeed," they add, "he
that will compare the fine speech by Parsons in 1886 with that of
Liebknecht at the high treason trial at Leipzig will find the two
practically identical."

So far, then, as their socialism goes, there is admittedly no real
difference between Parsons, the Chicago anarchist, and Liebknecht, the
leader of the German socialists. Indeed, as I have said, the anarchists
seem to show a tendency even to outbid the socialists in their
socialism. Socialists generally say that, while committing all
production to the public authority, they have no idea of interfering
with liberty of consumption. Their opponents argue, in reply, that they
would find an interference with consumption to be an inevitable result
of their systematic regulation of production; but they themselves always
repudiate that conclusion. They would make all the instruments of
production common property, but leave all the materials of enjoyment
individual property still. Ground rents, for example, would belong to
the public; but every man would own his own house and furniture, at
least for life, if he had built it by his own labour, or bought it from
his own savings, because a dwelling house is not an instrument of
production, but an article of enjoyment or consumption. But some of the
more representative spokesmen of the anarchists would not leave this
last remnant of private property standing, and strongly contend for the
old primitive plan, still in use among savage tribes, of giving those
who are in want of anything a claim--a right--to share the enjoyment of
it with those who happen to have it. They would municipalize the houses
as well as the ground rents, and no one should be allowed a right to a
spare bed or a disengaged sofa so long as one of the least of his
brethren huddled on straw in a garret in the slums, or slept out on a
bench in Trafalgar Square. In a recent number of _Freedom_, for example,
Prince Krapotkin announces that "the first task of the Revolution will
be to arrange things so as to share the accommodation of available
houses according to the needs of the inhabitants of the city, to clear
out the slums and fully occupy the villas and mansions." Anarchist
opinions are no doubt capricious and variable. There are as many
anarchisms as there are anarchists, it has been said. But this tendency
to go further than other socialists, in superseding individual by common
property, has repeatedly appeared in some of their most representative

The Jurassian Federation of the International adopted a resolution at
their Congress in 1880, in which they say: "We desire collectivism, with
all its logical consequences, not only in the sense of the collective
appropriation of instruments of production, but also of the collective
enjoyment and consumption of products. Anarchist communism will in this
way be the necessary and inevitable consequence of the social
revolution, and the expression of the new civilization which that
revolution will inaugurate."

Their principal difference with the other branch of the socialists,
however,--and that from which they derive their name--is upon the
government of the socialistic society. Anarchy as a principle of
political philosophy was first advocated by Proudhon, and he meant by
it, not of course a state of chaos or disorder, but merely a state
without separate political or civil institutions,--"a state of order
without a set government." "The expression, anarchic government," he
says, "implies a sort of contradiction. The thing seems impossible, and
the idea absurd; but there is really nothing at fault here but the
language. The idea of anarchy in politics is quite as rational and
positive as any other. It consists in this,--that the political function
be re-absorbed in the industrial, and in that case social order would
ensue spontaneously out of the simple operation of transactions and
exchanges. Every man might then be justly called autocrat of himself,
which is the extreme reverse of monarchical absolutism" ("Die Princip
Federatif," p. 29). He distinguishes anarchy from democracy and from
communistic government, though his distinctions are not easy to
apprehend exactly. Communism, he says, is the government of all by all;
democracy, the government of all by each; and anarchy, the government of
each by each. Anarchy is, in his opinion, the only real form of
self-government. People would manage their own public affairs together
like partners in a business, and no one would be subject to the
authority of another. Government is considered a mere detail of
industrial management; and the industrial management is considered to be
in the hands of all who co-operate in the industry. The specific
preference of anarchism, therefore, seems to be for some form of direct
government by the people, in place of any form of central, superior, or
representative government; and naturally its political communities must
be small in size, though they may be left to league together, if they
choose, in free and somewhat loose federations. The anarchists are
accordingly more democratic in their political theory than the
socialists more strictly so called, inasmuch as they would give the
people more hand in the work of government, though of course they
preposterously underrate the need and difficulty of that work.

On some minor points they contradict one another, and quite as often
contradict themselves. Proudhon, for example, would still, even in
anarchist society, retain the local policeman and magistrate; but
anarchists of a stricter doctrine would either have every man carry his
own pistol and provide for his own security, or, as the Boston
anarchists prefer, apparently, would have public security supplied like
any other commodity by an ordinary mercantile association--in Proudhon's
words, "by the simple operation of transactions and exchanges." Emerson
said the day was coming when the world would do without the
paraphernalia of courts and parliaments, and a man who liked the
profession would merely put a sign over his door, "John Smith, King."
This is too much division of function however for anarchists generally,
and they would have every industrial group do its government as it did
its business by general co-operation. Just as in Russia every rural
commune has its own trade, and the inhabitants of one are all
shoemakers, while the inhabitants of another are all tailors, so in
anarchist society, according to the more advanced doctrine, every
separate group would have its own separate industry, because, in fact,
the separate industry makes it a separate group. And it would be managed
by all its members together, not by anything in the nature of a board,
for it is important to recollect that anarchists of the purest water
entertain as much objection to the domination of a vestry or a town
council as to that of a king or a cabinet. Some who side with them,
especially old supporters of the French Revolutionary Commune, have
still a certain belief in a municipal council; but the Russian
anarchists, at any rate, look upon this as a piece of faithless
accommodation. Prince Krapotkin, I have already mentioned, thinks the
first business of the contemplated revolution must be to redistribute
the dwelling houses, so as to thin the slums and quarter their surplus
population in the incompletely occupied villas or mansions of the West
End. That is a very large task, which it will seem, to an ordinary mind,
obviously impossible for the vast population of a great city like London
to execute in their own proper persons at an enormous town meeting; yet,
if I understand Prince Krapotkin, it is this preposterous proposal he is
actually offering as a serious contribution to a more perfect system of
government. "For," says he, "sixty elected persons sitting round a table
and calling themselves a Municipal Council cannot arrange the matter on
paper. It must be arranged by the people themselves, freely uniting to
settle the question for each block of houses, each street, and
proceeding by agreement from the single to the compound, from the parts
to the whole; all having their voice in the arrangements, and putting in
their claims with those of their fellow-citizens; just as the Russian
peasants settle the periodical repartition of the communal lands." And
how do the Russian peasants settle the periodical repartition of the
communal lands? Stepniak gives us a very interesting description of a
meeting of a Russian _mir_ in his "Russia Under the Tsars" (vol. i. p.

"The meetings of the village communes, like those of the
_Landesgemeinde_ of the primitive Swiss cantons, are held under the
vault of heaven, before the Starosta's house, before a tavern, or at any
other convenient place. The thing that most strikes a person who is
present for the first time at one of these meetings is the utter
confusion which seems to characterize its proceedings. Chairman there is
none. The debates are scenes of the wildest disorder. After the convener
has explained his reasons for calling the meeting, everybody rushes in
to express his opinion, and for a while the debate resembles a free
fight of pugilists. The right of speaking belongs to him who can command
attention. If an orator pleases his audience, interrupters are promptly
silenced; but if he says nothing worth hearing, nobody heeds him, and he
is shut up. When the question is somewhat of a burning one, and the
meeting begins to grow warm, all speak at once, and none listen. On
these occasions the assembly breaks up into groups, each of which
discusses the subject on its own account. Everybody shouts his arguments
at the top of his voice. Charges and objurgations, words of contumely
and derision, are heard on every hand, and a wild uproar goes on from
which it does not seem possible that any good can result.

"But this apparent confusion is of no moment. It is a necessary means to
a certain end. In our village assemblies voting is unknown.
Controversies are never decided by a majority of voices; every question
must be settled unanimously. Hence the general debate, as well as
private discussions, must be continued until a proposal is brought
forward which conciliates all interests, and wins the suffrage of the
entire _mir_. It is, moreover, evident that to reach this consummation
the debates must be thorough and the subject well threshed out; and in
order to overcome isolated opposition, it is essential for the advocates
of conflicting views to be brought face to face, and compelled to fight
out their differences in single combat."

But beneath all this tough and apparently acrimonious strife a singular
spirit of forbearance reigns. The majority will not force on a premature
decision. Debate may rage fast and furious day after day, but at last
the din dies. A common understanding is somehow attained, and the _mir_
pronounces its deliverance, which is accepted, in the rude belief of
the peasants, as the decree of God Himself. In this way tens of
thousands of Russian villages have been, no doubt, managing their own
petty business with reasonable amity and success for centuries, and the
political philosophy of Russian writers like Bakunin and Prince
Krapotkin, who have propagated anarchism in the west of Europe, is
merely the naïve suggestion that the form of government which answers
not intolerably for the few trivial concerns of a primitive Russian
village would answer best for the whole complex business of a great
developed modern society.

The anarchists carry their dislike to authority into other fields
besides the political and industrial. They will have no invisible master
or ruler any more than visible. They renounce both God and the devil,
and generally with an energy beyond all other revolutionists. Some of
the older socialists were believers; St. Simon, Fourier, Leroux and
Louis Blanc were all theists; but it is rare to find one among the
socialists of the present generation, and with the anarchists an
aggressive atheism seems an essential part of their way of thinking.
They will own no superior power or authority of any kind--employer,
ruler, deity, or law. The Anarchist Congress of Geneva in 1882 issued a
manifesto, which began thus:--

"Our enemy, it is our master. Anarchists--that is to say, men without
chiefs--we fight against all who are invested or wish to invest
themselves with any kind of power whatsoever. Our enemy is the landlord
who owns the soil and makes the peasant drudge for his profit. Our enemy
is the employer who owns the workshop, and has filled it with
wage-serfs. Our enemy is the State, monarchical, oligarchic, democratic,
working class, with its functionaries and its services of officers,
magistrates, and police. Our enemy is every abstract authority, whether
called Devil or Good God, in the name of which priests have so long
governed good souls. Our enemy is the law, always made for the
oppression of the weak by the strong, and for the justification and
consecration of crime."

Among other restraints, they entertain often a speculative opposition to
the restraint of the legal family, and sometimes advocate a return to
aboriginal promiscuity and relationship by mothers; but this is only an
occasional element in their agitation. It is plain, however, that when
law is believed to be oppression, crime and lawlessness come to be

I have now shown that the anarchists, so far from representing an
opposite movement to revolutionary social democracy, are really
ultra-socialist and ultra-democratic, and it seems hardly necessary to
show that they are ultra-revolutionary. All social democrats contemplate
an eventual revolution, but some see no objection meanwhile to take part
in current politics; while others, a more witnessing generation,
practise an ostentatious abstention, and call themselves political
abstentionists. Some, again, think and desire that the revolution will
come by peaceful and lawful means; others trust to violence alone. The
anarchists outrun all. They refuse to have anything to do with any
politics but revolution, and with any revolution but a violent one, and
they think the one means of producing revolution now or at any future
time is simply to keep exciting disorder and class hatred, assassinating
State officers, setting fire to buildings, and paralyzing the
_bourgeoisie_ with fear. All anarchists are not of this sanguinary mind,
and it is interesting to remember that Proudhon himself wrote Karl Marx
in 1846, warning him against "making a St. Bartholomew of the
proprietors," and opposed resort to revolutionary action of any kind as
a means of promoting social reform. "Perhaps," he says, "we think no
reform is possible without a _coup de main_, without what used to be
called a revolution, and which is only a shake. I understand that
decision and excuse it, for I held it for a long time myself, but I
confess my latest studies have completely taken it away from me. I
believe we have no need of any such thing in order to succeed, and that
consequently we ought not to postulate revolutionary action as a means
of social reform, because that pretended means is nothing more nor less
than an appeal to force, to arbitrary power, and is therefore a
contradiction. I state the problem thus: to restore to society, by an
economic combination, the wealth which has been taken from society by
another economic combination." ("Proudhon's Correspondence," ii. 198.)

But whatever individual anarchists may hold or renounce, the general
view of the party is as I have stated. A meeting of 600
anarchists--chiefly Germans and Austrians, but including also some
Russians, Spaniards, and Frenchmen--was held at Paris on the 20th April,
1884, and passed a resolution urgently recommending the extirpation of
princes, capitalists, and parsons, by means of "the propaganda of
deed."[2] The Congress held at London in 1881, which sought to
re-establish the International on purely anarchist lines, adopted a
declaration of principles, containing, among other things, the
following: "It is matter of strict necessity to make all possible
efforts to propagate by deeds the revolutionary idea and the spirit of
revolt among that great section of the mass of the people which as yet
takes no part in the movement, and entertains illusions about the
morality and efficacy of legal means. In quitting the legal ground on
which we have generally remained hitherto, in order to carry our action
into the domain of illegality which is the only way leading to
revolution, it is necessary to have recourse to means which are in
conformity with that end.... The Congress recommends organizations and
individuals constituting part of the International Working Men's
Association to give great weight to the study of the technical and
chemical sciences as a means of defence and attack."[3] In the first
French revolution Lavoisier and other seven and twenty chemists were put
to the guillotine together, on the express pretence, "We have no need of
_savants_"; but now "Technology" is a standing heading in the anarchist
journals; a revolutionary organization has its chemical department as
well as its press department; and anarchist tracts often end with the
standing exhortation, "Learn the use of dynamite," as socialist tracts
end with the old admonition of 1848, "Proletarians of all nations,

The object of this policy of violence is partly, as we see from the
above quotations, to inflame the spirit of revolt and disorder in the
working classes; and it is partly to terrorize the _bourgeoisie_, so
that they may yield in pure panic all they possess. But for its
expressly violent policy, anarchism would be the least formidable or
offensive manifestation of contemporary socialism. For, in the first
place, its specific doctrine is one which it is really difficult to get
the most ordinary common sense puzzled into accepting. Men in their
better mind may be ready enough to listen to specious, or even not very
specious, schemes of reform that hold out a promise of extirpating
misery, and in their worse mind they may be quite as prone to think that
if everybody had his own, there would be fewer rich; but they are not
likely to believe we can get on without law or government of any sort.
Even the vainest will feel that however superfluous these institutions
may be for themselves, they are still unhappily indispensable for some
of their neighbours. Then in the next place this doctrine of the
anarchists is as great a stumbling-block to themselves as it is to other
people, for they carry their objection to government into their own
movement, and can consequently never acquire that concentration and
unity of organization which is necessary for any effectual conspiracy.
They are always found constituted in very small groups very loosely held
together, and small as the several groups may be, they are always much
more likely to subdivide than to consolidate. Even the few anarchist
refugees in London who might be expected to be knit into indissoluble
friendship by their common adversity have broken into separate clubs,
and the "Autonomic" and the "Morgenrothe"--though they have hardly more
than a hundred members between them, and all belong to the same
socialist variety of anarchist doctrine--remain as the Jews and the
Samaritans. It is said to be a subject of speculative discussion among
anarchists whether two members are sufficient to constitute an anarchist
club. This laxity of organization is a natural result of the dislike to
authority which the anarchists cultivate as a cardinal principle.
Subjection to an executive committee is as offensive to their feelings
and as contrary to their principles as subjection to a monarch. The
dread of subjection keeps them disunited and weak. As Machiavelli says,
the many ruin a revolutionary society, and the few are not enough. A
small group may concoct an isolated crime, but it can do little towards
the social revolution.

The anarchist policy--the propaganda of deed--consists, however,
exactly in this concoction of isolated crimes and outrages. Some of the
continental powers are conferring at this moment on the propriety of
taking international efforts against the anarchists, and the question
may at least be reasonably raised before our own Government, whether a
policy of promiscuous outrage like this should continue to be included
among political offences, securing protection against extradition, and
whether the propaganda of deed and the use of dynamite should not rather
be declared outside the limits of fair and legitimate revolution, as, by
the Geneva Convention, explosive bullets are put outside the limits of
fair or legitimate war.


[2] Much interesting information on this subject is given from official
sources in a recent anonymous work, "Socialismus und Anarchismus in
Europa und Nordamerika während der Jahre 1883 bis 1886."

[3] Garin, "L'Anarchie et les Anarchistes," p. 48.



Haxthausen pronounced a confident opinion in 1847, when most of the
continental nations were agitated with rumours of revolution, that
Russia at any rate was safe from the danger, inasmuch as she enjoyed an
absolute protection against all such revolutionary agitation in her
communistic rural institutions. There was no proletariat in Russia,
every man in the country being born to a share in the land of the
township he belonged to; and without a proletariat, concluded the
learned professor, there was neither motive nor material for social
revolt. This belief became generally accepted, and passed, indeed, for
years as a political commonplace; but perhaps never has a political
prognostication so entirely reasonable proved on experience so utterly
fallacious. Instead of sparing or avoiding Russia, revolutionary
agitation has grown positively endemic in that country; it is more
virulent in its type, and apparently more deepseated than elsewhere;
and, stranger still, not the least of its exciting causes has been that
very communistic agrarian system which was thought to be the surest
preservation against it.

In its earlier period, before the emancipation of the serfs, the Russian
revolutionary movement was largely inspired by an extravagant
idealization of the perfections of the rural commune, and now since the
emancipation it is fed far more formidably by an actual experience of
the commune's defects. The truth is that the communistic land system of
Russia, so far from preventing the birth of a proletariat, is now of
itself begetting the most numerous and the most helpless proletariat in
the world. The emancipation dues would have been a serious burden under
any social arrangements, but they have proved so much heavier under the
communistic system of Russia than they would have been elsewhere that
the system itself is beginning to give way. With an unlimited stock of
good land, all is plain sailing under any social institutions; but when
land is limited in extent and every new-comer has the right to cut in
and get an equal share with those already in possession, excessive
subdivision is inevitable, and the point is soon reached where any fresh
impost or outgoing destroys the profitableness of cultivation, and
converts the right to the land from an asset into a liability. This is
what is now happening in Russia. It appears there are already more
paupers in St. Petersburg proportionally to population than in any other
European capital, and as many as a third of the inhabitants of the
provinces are either entirely landless, or, more unhappy still, find
their land, instead of a benefit, to be only a grievous burden of which
they cannot shake themselves clear. I shall have occasion later on to
recur to this new economic development in rural Russia, which is very
interesting to the student of socialism on its own account, but which
will concern us in the present chapter more particularly in its bearing
on the operations and prospects of the revolutionary party in that

The revolutionary or nihilist movement in Russia has passed through
several successive phases; but there is no good reason for denying its
continuity, nor any impropriety, as is sometimes alleged, in the
retention of the name of Nihilism, which it bore when it first engaged
the attention of Western Europe, although it may be quite true that the
word is more descriptive of the earlier developments of the movement
than of the later. In its first stage, before the Emancipation Act, it
was scarce more than an intellectual fermentation--an intellectual
revolt all round, if you will--shaping more and more in its political
ideas towards democratic socialism, but as yet entirely unorganized, and
content to expend its force in violent opinions without recourse to
action. Then, second, the Emancipation Act gave it organization,
purpose, malignity, and made it, in short, the nihilism we know,
converting it into the engine of the bitter discontent of the landed
classes, who were seriously straitened and many of them ruined by the
operation of that great reform. Third, while the impoverishment of
thousands of landed families was the first result of the Emancipation
Act, its slower but more serious result has been the impoverishment of
the peasantry, and nihilism is now assuming a more agrarian character,
and promoting the social revolution under the old Russian cry for "the
black division."

For the origin of nihilism we must go back half a century to a little
company of gifted young men, most of whom rose to great distinction, who
used at that time to meet together at the house of a rich merchant in
Moscow, for the discussion of philosophy and politics and religion. They
were of the most various views. Some of them became Liberal leaders, and
wanted Russia to follow the constitutional development of the Western
nations; others became founders of the new Slavophil party, contending
that Russia should be no imitator, but develop her own native
institutions in her own way; and there were at least two among
them--Alexander Herzen and Michael Bakunin--who were to be prominent
exponents of revolutionary socialism. But they all owned at this period
one common master--Hegel. Their host was an ardent Hegelian, and his
young friends threw themselves into the study of Hegel with the greatest
zeal. Herzen himself tells us in his autobiography how assiduously they
read everything that came from his pen, how they devoted nights and
weeks to clearing up the meaning of single passages in his writings, and
how greedily they devoured every new pamphlet that issued from the
German press on any part of his system. From Hegel, Herzen and Bakunin
were led, exactly like Marx and the German Young Hegelians, to
Feuerbach, and from Feuerbach to socialism. Bakunin, when he retired
from the army, rather than be the instrument of oppressing the Poles
among whom he was stationed, went for some years to Germany, where he
lived among the Young Hegelians and wrote for their organ, the
_Hallische Jahrbücher_; but before either he or Herzen ever had any
personal intercommunication with the members of that school of thought,
they had passed through precisely the same development. Herzen speaks of
socialism almost in the very phrases of the Young Hegelians, as being
the new "terrestrial religion," in which there was to be neither God nor
heaven; as a new system of society which would dispense with an
authoritative government, human or Divine, and which should be at once
the completion of Christianity and the realization of the Revolution.
"Christianity," he said, "made the slave a son of man; the Revolution
has emancipated him into a citizen. Socialism would make him a _man_."

This tendency of thought was strongly supported in the Russian mind by
Haxthausen's discovery and laudation of the rural commune of Russia. The
Russian State was the most arbitrary, oppressive, and corrupt in Europe,
and the Russian Church was the most ignorant and superstitious; but here
at last was a Russian institution which was regarded with envy even by
wise men of the west, and was really a practical anticipation of that
very social system which was the last work of European philosophy. It
was with no small pride, therefore, that Alexander Herzen declared that
the Muscovite peasant in his dirty sheepskin had solved the social
problem of the nineteenth century, and that for Russia, with this great
problem already solved, the Revolution was obviously a comparatively
simple operation. You had but to remove the Czardom, the services, and
the priesthood, and the great mass of the people would still remain
organized in fifty thousand complete little self-governing communities
living on their common land and ruling their common affairs as they had
been doing long before the Czardom came into being. And what, after all,
was the latest dream of philosophical socialism but a world of
communities like these? The new formula of civilization had merely come
back to the old Russian _mir_.

All Russian writers draw a kindly and charming picture of the _mir_, the
rude village council, in which the heads of families have for ages
managed their common land, distributed their taxes, and settled all the
burning problems of the hamlet with remarkable freedom, fairness, and
mutual respect. They meet together on some open space--perhaps in front
of the tavern, which is itself one of their common possessions; they
beat out their question there till they are unanimous; for the _mir_
will know nothing of decision by majorities--the will of the _mir_ is
believed to be the will of God Himself, and it must be no divided
counsel. They argue sometimes long and keenly, and, as their interest
waxes, they will raise many voices at once, or perhaps break up into
separate groups, each discussing the subject apart; but presently, out
of all the apparent disorder, the acceptable decision is somehow found,
and peace reigns again in the village street. In these meetings they
have the deepest feeling and habit of freedom; and even when a political
question arises affecting their interests--a question of taxes or of
administration--they make no scruple to speak in the plainest terms of
the Government and the officials, and they are never interfered with.
"Nobody but God," they say, "dare judge the _mir_," and the Czar, at any
rate, respects the tradition. That rude assembly is the only free
institution in Russia. Even revolutionary manifestoes have been publicly
read at its meetings, and socialist addresses publicly delivered. And
this instinctive spirit of freedom is attended there with the
instinctive spirit of equality. A recent Russian writer observes that a
Russian peasant would be quite unable to understand the sort of respect
the English labourer shows to a gentleman. With its freedom, its
equality, its strong family sentiment, its common property, its
self-government, the _mir_ is really the social democratic republic
political philosophers have projected, and a Russian who dislikes the
State and loves the _mir_ is, without more ado, a social revolutionist
of the anarchist type. The favourite ideal among Russian revolutionists
for the last fifty years has accordingly all along been the anarchist
ideal of a free federation of local industrial communities without any
separate political organization; for the anarchist ideal is natural to
the Russian situation.

Revolutionary opinions were very rife in Russia during the reign of
Nicholas; but under his iron rule they were never suffered to be spoken
above the breath. His ascension to the throne in 1825 had been greeted
by a revolution--a very abortive one, it is true, but unfortunately
sufficient to set every fibre of the young Czar's strong nature
inflexibly against all the liberal tendencies encouraged by his father,
and to stop the political development of the country for a generation. A
handful of constitutional reformers--united three years before in a
secret society to promote peasant emancipation, the common civil
liberties, and stable instead of arbitrary law--gathered a crowd to a
public place in the capital, and shouted for "the Archduke Constantine
and a Constitution." Most part of the crowd had so little idea why they
had come together that they thought Constitution was the name of the
Archduke Constantine's wife; and the most distinguished man among the
conspirators--Pestel, the poet--said, as he was going to execution, "I
wished to reap the harvest before sowing the seed." He had done
worse--he really kept the seed from being sown for thirty years to come.
All freedom of opinion was ruthlessly suppressed; every means of
influencing the public mind was stopped; there was no liberty of
printing, speaking, or meeting; there was no saving grace but ignorance,
for people of reading and intelligence lived under perpetual liability
to most unreasonable suspicion. Alexander Herzen, for example, was
banished to the Asiatic frontier while still a very young man, merely
because he happened to make the casual remark in a private letter to his
father, which was opened in the post, that a policeman had a few days
before killed a man in the streets of St. Petersburg.

But this system of lawless and unrighteous repression nursed a deep
spirit of revolt against constituted authority in the heart of the
people, and among the younger minds a kind of passion for the most
extreme and forbidden doctrines. All the wildest phases of nihilist
opinion in the sixties were already raging in Russia in the forties.
Haxthausen says he was astounded, when he visited the Russian
universities and schools, to find the students at every one of them
given over, as he says, to political and religious notions of the most
all-destructive description. "It is a miasma," he says. And although the
only political outbreak of Nicholas's reign, the Petracheffsky
conspiracy of 1849, was little more than a petty street riot, a storm of
serious revolt against the tyranny of the Czar was long gathering, which
would have burst upon his head after the disasters to his army in the
Crimea, had he survived them. He saw it thickening, however, and on his
death-bed said to his son, the noble and unfortunate Alexander II., "I
fear you will find the burden too heavy." The son found it eventually
heavy enough, but in the meantime he wisely bent before the storm,
relaxed the restraints the father had imposed, and gave pledges of the
most liberal reforms in every department of State--judicial
administration, local government, popular education, serf emancipation.
People believed completely in the young Czar's sincerity, awaited with
great expectations the measures he would propose, and meanwhile indulged
to the top of their bent in the practical liberties they were already
provisionally allowed to enjoy, and gave themselves up to a restless
fervour for liberty and reform.

An independent press was not among the liberties conceded, but Russian
opinion at this period found a most effective voice in a newspaper
started in London by Alexander Herzen, called the _Kolokol_ (Bell),
which for a number of years made a great impression in Russia by the
accuracy of its information on Russian affairs, by the boldness of its
criticisms of the Government, and by the ease with which it got smuggled
into universal circulation. When Herzen was sent to the Urals as a
dangerous person, he was appointed, very anomalously--perhaps it was to
keep him there--to an administrative and judicial post, in which he
would have apparently to sentence others while under sentence himself;
but he grew weary of his banishment, and was permitted to exchange it
for the more complete, but much more agreeable, banishment from Russia
altogether. After visiting Germany and France, and after witnessing,
with deep interest and deeper disappointment, some of the revolutions of
1848, and writing that they had failed because their promoters were not
prepared to follow them up with a positive social programme, as if, he
says, the mere destruction of a Bastile were a revolution, he settled in
England, and learnt there, as his son assures us, that revolution itself
was but a vain expedient, and that gradual reform was the only effectual
method of lasting social amelioration.

It was probably while he was learning this lesson--it was certainly
entirely in this spirit--that he began his political agitation on the
accession of Alexander II. The moment the new Czar ascended the throne,
Herzen addressed to him a famous letter, demanding amends for the ills
his father, Czar Nicholas, had done the people, a complete breach with
the old system, and the introduction of thoroughgoing Liberal reforms,
and more especially the emancipation of the serfs. It was in the same
spirit he conducted his agitation in the _Kolokol_. Without neglecting
to ventilate his socialist and philosophical views, he welcomed the
contemplated reforms as being in themselves true remedies for popular
grievances, and intended in perfect good faith by the Czar to be so; and
his chief care in all his criticisms always was to secure that these
reforms should be real and thorough, that the judicial body should be
independent, the educational arrangements efficient; above all, that the
peasants should not be deprived, in the emancipation arrangements, of a
foot of the land they then possessed, or made to pay terms for their
emancipation which would be too heavy for them to meet. And perhaps the
most popular and stirring part of his paper was always his exposure of
existing abuses, and his criticism of the conduct of officials. The
journal was written with wit, vigour, and accurate knowledge; and, as it
spoke what most men thought, but few would as yet venture to say, it was
greedily read and distributed, and was for some years a remarkable power
in the country. Herzen was the hero of the young. Herzenism, we are
told, became the rage, and Herzenism appears to have meant, before all,
a free handling of everything in Church or State which was previously
thought too sacred to be touched. This iconoclastic spirit grew more and
more characteristic of Russian society at this period, and presently,
under its influence, Herzenism fell into the shade, and nihilism
occupied the scene.

We possess various accounts of the meaning and nature of nihilism, and
they all agree substantially in their description of it. The word was
first employed by Turgenieff in his novel "Fathers and Sons," where
Arcadi Petrovitch surprises his father and uncle by describing his
friend Bazaroff as a nihilist.

"A nihilist," said Nicholas Petrovitch. "This word must come from the
Latin _nihil_, nothing, as far as I can judge, and consequently it
signifies a man who recognises nothing."

"Or rather who respects nothing," said Paul Petrovitch.

"A man who looks at everything from a critical point of view," said

"Does not that come to the same thing?" asked his uncle.

"No, not at all. A nihilist is a man who bows before no authority, who
accepts no principle without examination, no matter what credit the
principle has."...

"Yes, before we had Hegelians; now we have nihilists. We shall see what
you will do to exist in nothingness, in a vacuum, as if under an air

Koscheleff, writing in 1874, gives a similar explanation of nihilism.
"Our disease is a disease of character, and the most dangerous possible.
We suffer from a fatal unbelief in everything. We have ceased to believe
in this or in that, not because we have studied the subject thoroughly
and become convinced of the untenability of our views, but only because
some author or another in Germany or England holds this or that doctrine
to be unfounded. Our nihilism is a thing of a quite peculiar character.
It is not, as in the West, the result of long falsely directed
philosophical studies and ways of thinking, nor is it the fruit of an
imperfect social organization. It is an entirely different thing from
that. The wind has blown it to us, and the wind will blow it from us
again. Our nihilists are simply Radicals. Their loud speeches, their
fault-finding, their strong assertions, are grounded on nothing. They
borrow negative views from foreign authors, and repeat them and magnify
them _ad nauseam_, and treat persons of another way of thinking as
absurd and antiquated people who continue to cherish exploded ideas and
customs. The chief cause of the spread of this (I will not say doctrine,
for I cannot honour it with such a name, but) sect is this, that it
imparts its communications in secret conversations, so that, for one
thing, it cannot be publicly criticised and refuted, and, for another,
it charms by the fascination of the forbidden."

The same view precisely is given by Baron Fircks ("Schedo Ferroti") in
his very elaborate and thoughtful account of nihilism in his _L'Avenir
de la Russie_. It was merely, he said, the critical spirit--the spirit
of intellectual revolt--carried to an extreme and running amuck against
all accepted principles in religion, in politics, in domestic and social
life. It was a common infirmity of contemporary society, and was in no
way peculiar to Russia; but while that may be true, it has
undoubtedly--as perhaps the Baron would admit--been carried into more
extravagant manifestations in Russia than elsewhere.

Nor are the reasons of this extravagance far to seek. First, the
Russians are, in national character, singularly impressionable,
volatile, and predisposed to run to extremes. Diderot says they were
rotten before they were ripe. Second, they are mere children in
political experience, and even in intellectual training. Their education
is in general shallow, and they are liable to the vagaries of the half
educated. Third, both Baron Fircks and Koscheleff think nihilism was
largely due to the arbitrary government of the country. The Czar and the
bureaucracy have themselves had much to do with destroying respect for
law and authority by their capricious habits of administration. Laws
were proclaimed to-day and repealed to-morrow, or even broken by the
very officials engaged in administering them. Even in the days of
Nicholas, Herzen complained bitterly of this constant inconstancy of the
law; he said the Russian Government was "infatuated with innovation,"
that "nothing was allowed to remain as it was," that "everything was
always being changed," that "a new ministry invariably began its work by
upsetting that of its predecessors." Russia being a Functionary State,
not a Law State, to employ a useful German distinction, the decrees of
officials take the place elsewhere filled by fixed laws established by
legislative authority; and where these decrees are continually changing,
reverence for the law is impossible.

But in all this there was no practical political disaffection before the
Emancipation Act. The nihilists had as yet a vague belief in the Czar
and the coming reforms; they felt that the Russian people were at last
to have a chance of showing the rich genius that lay in them, and their
whole anxiety was to have the people adequately trained for this great
destiny. It was the common talk that the future belonged to Russia; and
that she was already beginning to outshine all other nations in
literature, in art, in science, in music. "Some young people among us,"
says Turgenieff, "have discovered even a Russian arithmetic. Two and two
do make four with us as well as elsewhere, but more pompously, it would
seem. All this is nothing but the stammering of men who are just

Under these influences the energies of the nihilists took a different
outlet than plotting. Instead of founding secret societies, they
founded Sunday schools. For to their mind the first need of the time,
above even political liberty, was popular education. As to liberty, the
measure they practically enjoyed at the gracious pleasure of the Czar
for the present contented them, inasmuch as it seemed an earnest of the
better securities that were expected to follow; but they could not with
any satisfaction look round them and see the Russian people, for whom
they were prophesying such a great career, still lying in almost
aboriginal ignorance. The stuff was indeed there which should yet
astonish the world, but it must first be made. To "make the people," as
they phrased it, was the task the nihilists now undertook, and they
threw themselves into it with the zeal of apostles. They put on shabby
clothes to avoid any offensive superiority to their poorer neighbours,
and they wore green spectacles to correct the even more intolerable
inequality of personal beauty, for, as they were fond of saying, they
had put off the old man and were now new men created again by Büchner
and Feuerbach in the gospel of humanity; but with all their
extravagances they carried on for some years a most active and no doubt
useful work in the Sunday schools and reading circles which they rapidly
established everywhere.

Although this movement fell eventually under the suspicion of the
Government, as in despotic countries any movement will, it seems to have
had no political, or what the authorities call "ill-intentioned"
purpose. It was pervaded with patriotic and humanitarian feeling, and
though no doubt many of the nihilists who took part in it held as
extreme opinions in politics as they did in everything else, yet these
opinions were mere matters of speculation. It is certain that democratic
and revolutionary socialism was a very popular doctrine among the
nihilists, even at that earliest period of their history, for their most
representative man during that period was Tchernycheffsky, the editor of
the _Contemporary_ magazine, and a political economist of some note in
his day; and Tchernycheffsky was undoubtedly a democratic and
revolutionary socialist. He belonged to a younger generation than Herzen
and Bakunin, but, like them, he had been led to socialism through Hegel
and Feuerbach, and he expounded his ideas in a famous romance entitled,
"What is to be done?" which the Government allowed him to write, and
even to publish, while in prison for sedition in 1862, though they
suppressed the book sternly when they saw it beginning to make a

But although revolutionary and socialistic principles may have been very
considerably entertained by the nihilists from the first, there was no
practical revolutionary or socialistic organization before the
emancipation of the serfs. Up till then nihilism may be said to have
been a benignant growth, if I may use a medical expression, and it was
that great historical measure that converted it into the malignant and
deadly trouble which we best know. The Russian Radicals, including the
socialists, were strongly disappointed with that measure from the
outset, because they thought it inflicted serious injustice on the
peasantry. It deprived them, they said, of much of the land they had
hitherto enjoyed as a right, and which was necessary for their
comfortable subsistence, while it imposed on them for what they got
excessive dues which their holdings would never be able to bear; and so
the first Land and Liberty League was founded in 1863. But it was not
the peasants, or the peasants' friends--it was the small landed gentry
who were the first to feel the effects of the Emancipation Act, and to
raise the standard of revolt. The Act made a serious change in their
fortunes. Although the landlords were allowed most liberal terms of
compensation for the enforced emancipation of their serfs, few of them
actually received a kopeck, because they were almost all of them already
deeply indebted to Government, and Government applied the compensation
money to cancel their old debts, and gave up the policy of granting any
more mortgages in the future. Then a great part of the land which was
formerly cultivated by means of the serfs was now found to be too poor
to afford the expense of paid labour; the landlords had neither stock
nor implements to work it, if it were more fertile, the peasantry having
in the old days tilled the field for them with their own horses and
ploughs; nor had they any means of raising the stock on credit, and,
besides, most of them were complete absentees, engaged as Government or
railway officials, or in other professional work, and knew nothing
whatever about the business of agriculture. The smaller landlords have
therefore been compelled to sell their estates to the larger, or to
leave much of their ground entirely uncultivated. In Moscow there were
633 separate estates in 1861, before the emancipation, but only 422 in
1877, and not more than one-fifth of the land that was cultivated in
that province in 1861 continued in cultivation in 1877. Many of the sons
of the smaller proprietors were at the universities studying for one of
the professions, and had either to give up their studies altogether for
want of means, or were put on shorter allowances, which was scarcely
less annoying, and was indeed a great cause of revolutionary opinions at
the universities. Many more of the sons of the gentry were in the army,
and the pay of a Russian officer being extremely small, they had been
accustomed to receive allowances from home, without which, indeed, they
could hardly live; and now in the altered circumstances of the family
these allowances were perforce suddenly stopped. Much of the
revolutionary discontent that exists in the Russian army to such a
serious extent that 200 arrests were made in March, 1885, and Government
appointed a special commission of inquiry into the subject, has come
from the source, and is practically a revolt against insufficient pay.
But what happened at the universities and in the army happened in other
departments of Russian life; the Emancipation Act had left on every
shore some wreckage of the gentry, an upper-class and educated
proletariat, whose distress might be due originally to their own
improvidence or ignorance, but was undoubtedly first driven into an
acute state by an act of Government, and therefore clamoured for
vengeance on the Government that produced it.

The clamour of the victims of the Emancipation Act naturally woke up all
the earlier discontents of the country. The Poles and the dissenting
sects, with all their ancient wrongs, seem to have contributed but a
small contingent to the nihilist ranks; but the Jews, subject to a
barbarous and often very acute persecution, have filled the secret
societies from the beginning with many of their most determined members,
and have supplied a great part of the "Nihilistesses"; and even though
the Revolutionary Executive Committee has latterly issued a proclamation
against the Jews, mainly on the ground of the extortion practised by
Jewish money-lenders on the peasantry, there are still, as appears very
abundantly from the nihilist trials of 1890, many Jews among the

Then there are thirteen millions of native heretics in Russia, sects of
various sorts springing up like the early Quakers from the bosom of the
people, and filled with a rude spirit of freedom and a tendency towards
socialistic ideas in their condemnation of luxury and accumulation,
their hatred of war and military government, and their belief in
fraternity and mutual assistance. Some writers allege that these sects
are an important factor in the revolutionary movement; but though they
certainly have suffered many wrongs from Government, they do not seem to
have furnished any great quota to the revolutionary ranks. They are the
freethinkers of the unlettered classes, however, and their ideas no
doubt have some influence in preparing these classes for socialist
principles. But there is another class very numerous in Russia, who are
the natural allies of revolution--the "illegal men" who, for various
reasons, go about on false passports, and are thus living in revolt
already. And to all these diverse sources of disaffection must be added
the aggravation arising at the moment from the tyrannical and arbitrary
measures to which the Government resorted on the first outburst of

In 1862, perceiving the discontent raised by the Emancipation Act,
Government took alarm, and withdrew or curtailed the liberties it had
for a few years allowed the people to enjoy. It stopped some newspapers
and warned a number more; it prohibited the Sunday schools and reading
clubs altogether; it banished many persons on mere suspicion to remote
provinces; and for a greater example it cast the eminent writer
Tchernycheffsky into prison on a charge of exciting the peasantry to
revolt, and after leaving him there without trial for nearly two years,
brought him out at length to a public square in St. Petersburg, read out
to him a sentence of transportation, broke a sword over his head, and
sent him to the Siberian mines for the rest of his life. There he still
remains, broken now both in mind and body, but probably doing more harm
to the Government by his wrongs than he could ever have done by his pen,
for nihilists have for twenty-seven years been constantly exciting
popular sympathy by descriptions of his martyrdom and demands for his

It was while this alienation against the Government was thickening that
Michael Bakunin escaped from Siberia, and it was by emissaries sent by
Bakunin to Russia that the first successful attempt was made to incite
and organize all these revolutionary materials into a revolutionary
movement. When Bakunin came back in 1862 and joined Herzen in London,
the two old friends found their ideas had parted far asunder during
their long separation. Herzen had, from his twelve years' observation of
affairs, broadened from revolutionist to statesman, and had no patience
now for the extravagance of the young Russian patriots who visited him
in London. "Our black earth," he would say, "needs a deal of draining."
And there is a remarkable letter which he wrote shortly before his
death, and apparently to Bakunin himself, in which he says:--

"I will own that one day, surrounded by dead bodies, by houses destroyed
with balls and bullets, and listening feverishly as prisoners were being
shot down, I called with my whole heart and intelligence upon the savage
force of vengeance to destroy the old criminal world, without thinking
much of what was to come in its place. Since that time twenty years have
gone by; the vengeance has come, but it has come from the other side,
and it is the people who have borne it, because they comprehended
nothing either then or since. A long and painful interval has given time
for passions to calm, for thoughts to deepen; it has given the necessary
time for reflection and observation. Neither you nor I have betrayed our
convictions; but we see the question now from a different point of view.
You rush ahead, as you did before, with a passion of destruction, which
you take for a creative passion; you crush every obstacle; you respect
history only in the future. As for me, on the contrary, I have no faith
in the old revolutionary methods, and I try to comprehend the march of
men in the past and in the present, to know how to advance with them
without falling behind, but without going on so far before as you, for
they would not follow me--they could not follow me!"

Herzen gradually lost hold over the wilder forces in Russia, he was
even openly denounced as a reactionary by the revolutionist Dolgourouki;
and when he alienated the more moderate parties likewise by his support
of the Polish insurrection of 1863, his spell vanished, and during the
remaining seven years of his life his influence was of little account.

Bakunin was more in unison with the troubled spirit of the times. While
Herzen had been ripening in political wisdom under the ampler
intellectual life to which his exile introduced him, Bakunin's twelve
years' confinement had maddened him into a fanatic, and instead of
curing him of revolutionary propensities, only fixed the idea of
revolution in his mind like a mania. When he came to London a huge,
haggard man, always excited, always talking, he used to speak of himself
as a Prometheus unbound, and he was to live henceforth for the undoing
of the powers and systems that were. He was never found without a group
of conspirators and refugees of all shades and nationalities about him.
With some reminiscences of socialistic philosophy remaining in the
background of his mind, his only real interest now was revolution, and
he seemed always thenceforth to look on his socialism as a means of
revolution rather than on revolution as a means to socialism. His
socialism itself had grown less sane--it was no longer the anarchism of
the old days: it was what he called "amorphism"--society not merely
without governmental institutions, but without institutions of any kind;
and he was domineered by the thought of a universal revolution, in which
all States and Churches and all institutions religious, political,
judicial, financial, academical, and social should perish in a common
destruction. "Amorphism" and "Pan-destruction" are not articles of a
rational creed, but they were propagated with almost preternatural
energy by Bakunin. The work of exciting revolution and disorder of any
kind was the main business of his life till he died in 1876. Others
might play a waiting game, but for him the work of the revolutionist was
revolution; and he ought to be incessantly promoting it, not by word
only, but by deed, by an unremitting terrorism, by shooting a policeman
when you can't reach a king, and destroying a Bastile if you cannot
overturn an empire. In his "Revolutionary Catechism," written in
cipher, but read by the public prosecutor at a Russian nihilist trial in
1871, he says (I quote the passage from M. de Laveleye):--

"The revolutionist is a man under a vow. He ought to have no personal
interests, no business, no sentiments, no property. He ought to occupy
himself entirely with one exclusive interest, with one thought and one
passion: the Revolution.... He has only one aim, one science:
destruction. For that and nothing but that he studied mechanics,
physics, chemistry, and medicine. He observes with the same object, the
men, the characters, the positions and all the conditions of the social
order. He despises and hates existing morality. For him everything is
moral that favours the triumph of the Revolution. Everything is immoral
and criminal that hinders it.... Between him and society there is war to
the death, incessant, irreconcilable. He ought to be prepared to die, to
bear torture, and to kill with his own hands all who obstruct the
revolution. So much the worse for him if he has in this world any ties
of parentage, friendship, or love! He is not a true revolutionist if
these attachments stay his arm. In the meantime he ought to live in the
middle of society, feigning to be what he is not. He ought to penetrate
everywhere, among high and low alike; into the merchant's office, into
the church, into the Government bureaux, into the army, into the
literary world, into the secret police, and even into the Imperial
Palace.... He must make a list of those who are condemned to death, and
expedite their sentence according to the order of their relative
iniquities.... A new member can only be received into the association by
a unanimous vote, and after giving proofs of his merit not in word but
in action. Every 'companion' ought to have under his hand several
revolutionists of the second or third degree, not entirely initiated. He
ought to consider them part of the revolutionary capital placed at his
disposal, and he ought to use them economically, and so as to extract
the greatest possible profit out of them.... The most precious element
of all are women, completely initiated, and accepting our entire
programme. Without their help we can do nothing."

Bakunin naturally turned his first attention to his own country, and
the subsequent development of Russian affairs show sufficiently distinct
signs of his ideas and influence.

In 1865 he sent a young medical student named Netchaïeff to Moscow, to
work among the students there, and Netchaïeff had, by 1869, established
a number of secret societies, which he linked together under the name of
the Russian Branch of the International Working Men's Association. This
organization was not very numerous--no Russian secret society is--but in
1873 as many as eighty-seven persons were brought to trial for
connection with it, and in 1866 one of its members, a working man called
Karakasoff, who was suffering from an incurable disease, made the first
attempt on the life of the Czar--an event which had most important
effects on the course of Russian politics. It rang out the era of
reform, and rang in the era of reaction. The popular concessions which
the Czar had already given he now began to withdraw. The people had
never got, as they expected, an independent judiciary--perhaps in an
autocratic country a judiciary independent of the executive is hardly
possible--but they had enjoyed some pretence of public trial, and now
that pretence was done away, and Karakasoff and his companions were not
brought before the court at all, but tried and condemned by an
extraordinary commission, with a military officer of approved ferocity
at its head. Administrative trial and administrative condemnation became
again the regular rule in Russia; and though these things were borne in
the days of Nicholas as almost matters of course, they were now deeply
resented as fresh invasions of right and direct breaches of imperial
promises. Then the bodies to which a certain amount of the local
government of the country, the management of roads, schools, poor,
health, etc., had been entrusted, were obstructed in the exercise of
their powers, or gradually deprived of their powers altogether, and
forced into complete dependence on the imperial executive. The students
at the universities began to be interfered with in their sick and
benefit societies and their reading circles; their studies in the
class-rooms were restricted to what was thought a safe routine; and even
their private lives and motions were watched with an exasperating
espionage. People felt the hand of the despot pressing back upon them
everywhere, and they felt it with a most natural and righteous recoil.
This reactionary policy, which has continued ever since--this return to
the hated old methods of arbitrary and repressive rule--produced, as was
inevitable, deep and general discontent at the very moment when the
great historical measure of serf emancipation was desolating the
families of the landed gentry, province after province; and when the
execution of the Emancipation Act was completed in 1870, Russian society
was already quivering with dangerous elements of revolt.

From that time evidences of an active revolutionary propaganda
multiplied rapidly every year. In 1871 and 1872 the writings of the
German socialists were translated and ran into great favour. Even of
Marx's far from popular work, "Capital," a large edition was eagerly
bought up, and ladies of position baptized their children in the name of
Lassalle. Secret societies were discovered both north and south. From
1873 to 1877 nihilist arrests, nihilist prosecutions, nihilist conflicts
with the police, were the order of the day, till at length, in 1878, the
young girl, Vera Sassulitch, fired the shot at the head of the Russian
police which began that long vendetta between the revolutionists and the
executive, in which so many officials perished, and eventually, in 1881,
after many unsuccessful attempts, the Czar himself was so cruelly

The ardent youth of Russia, who, in 1861, were still giving themselves
to the work of Sunday schools and reading circles, were, in 1871,
throwing their careers away to go out, like the first apostles, without
scrip or two coats, and propagate among the rude people of the provinces
the doctrines of modern revolutionary socialism, and by 1881 had become
absorbed in sheer terrorism, in avenging the official murder of comrades
without trial by the revolutionary murder of officials, in contriving
infernal plots and explosions, and trying vainly to cast out devils by
the prince of devils.

Stepniak attributes the impetus which the socialist agitation received
in 1871 to the impression produced in Russia by the Paris Commune; but
it would perhaps be more correct simply to ascribe it to the exertions
of two active Russian revolutionists, who were themselves associated
with the Communard movement, and who happened to enjoy at this period
unusual facilities of communication with the younger mind of Russia. One
was Bakunin, who had himself organized an insurrection at Lyons on the
principles of the Commune six months before the outbreak at Paris in
March, 1871; and the other was Peter Lavroff, the present Nestor of
Russian nihilism, who actually took part in the Paris Commune itself.
Lavroff, who had been a colonel in the Russian army, and professor in
the military college of St. Petersburg, was compromised in the attempt
of Karakasoff in 1866 and administratively banished to Archangel; but,
as happens so singularly often in Russia, he escaped in 1869, and lived
to edit a revolutionary journal in Zurich, and play for a time no
inconsiderable part in making trouble in Russia. At present,
communications between the active revolutionists who are at work in
Russia and their predecessors who have withdrawn to Western Europe are
entirely interrupted; but they were still abundant twenty years ago.
Partly in consequence of the reactionary educational policy of the
Government, young Russians flocked at that time to Switzerland for their
education, and were there conveniently indoctrinated into the new gospel
of the International. Bakunin and Lavroff were both in Zurich, and in
the year 1872 there were 239 Russian students, male and female, in
Zurich alone. These young people were, of course, in continual
intercourse with the older refugees. Bakunin and Lavroff both held
stated and formal lectures on socialism and revolution, which were
always succeeded by open and animated discussions of the subject treated
in them. A little later there were, according to Professor Thun, four
distinct groups among the Russian revolutionists in Zurich, some of them
caused by personal quarrels. But from the first there were always two,
one of whom swore by Bakunin, and the other by Lavroff.

Bakunin was an anarchist--an "amorphist" even, as we have seen--and he
believed in the propaganda of deeds. Every little village, he thought,
should make its own revolution; and if it could not make a revolution,
it might always be making a riot, or an explosion, or a fire, or an
assassination of some official, or something else to raise panic or
confusion. All this seemed to Lavroff and his friends to be unmitigated
folly. They too believed in revolution; but in their view revolution, to
be successful, must be organized and simultaneous; it must, above all,
first have the peasantry on its side; and therefore, instead of the mad
and premature propaganda of deed, the true policy for the present was
manifestly "going into the people," as they termed it--that is, an
itinerant mission to indoctrinate the people into the faith of the
coming revolution. Then, again, Lavroff, though, like almost all Russian
revolutionists, an anarchist, was not, like most of them, prepared to
dispense all at once with the State. He thought the new society would
eventually be able to do without any central authority, but not at
first, nor for a considerable time, the length of which could not now be
more precisely determined. In this Lavroff and his party stood much
nearer the Social Democrats of Germany than other Russian nihilists, and
they have come nearer still since then. They have cast off the Russian
commune, of which the early nihilists made so great an idol. They see
that it is an old-world institution doomed to dissolution, and rapidly
undergoing the process.

The two tendencies--diverging both in principle and in tactics--appeared
in Russia as well as Zurich. At first the more peaceful method
prevailed. Lavroff's idea of "going into the people" was the enthusiasm
of the hour, and brought upon the scene the typical nihilist
missionary--the young man of good birth who laid down station and
prospects, learnt a manual trade, browned his hands with tar and his
face by smearing it with butter and lying in the sun, put on the
peasant's sheepskin, and then, with a forged pass, procured at the
secret nihilist pass factory, and a few forbidden books in his wallet,
set off "without road" to be a peasant with peasants, if by any means he
could win them over to the cause; and the still more remarkable young
woman who went through a marriage ceremony to obtain the right of
independent action, and the moment the ceremony was over, left father
and mother and husband and all in order to work among the peasants of
the Volga as a teacher or nurse, and live on milk and groats according
to Tchernycheffsky's prescription in "What is to be Done?". Stepniak
justly remarks that "the type of propagandist of the first lustre of
1870-80 was religious rather than revolutionary. His hope was
socialism, his God the people. Notwithstanding all the evidence to the
contrary, he firmly believed that from one day to the other the
revolution was about to break out, as in the middle ages people believed
at certain periods in the approach of the day of judgment."
("Underground Russia," p. 30.)

For some years these ascetic devotees might be found in every corner of
broad Russia, working as shoemakers or joiners most of them (why these
were the favourite trades does not appear), or as hawkers of images or
tea, or, perhaps, like Prince Krapotkin, as painters. Some of them went
as horse-dealers, from a dreamy idea that the horses might prove useful
in the day of revolution. They all belonged to one or other of the
secret societies which, as we have seen, began to spring up about 1863,
and grew numerous in the next ten or fifteen years. None of these
societies, however, was of any great importance. Professor Thun mentions
four varieties of them. First, the Malikowsy, a handful of apparently
harmless and amiable enthusiasts--a kind of Russian Quakers--who
believed in one Malikov, and called themselves "God-men," because they
held every man had a "divine spark" in him, and was therefore every
other man's equal and brother. Second, the Bakunists, who adopted
Bakunin's programme of "deeds," but did not, till 1875, think of putting
it to practice. Third, the Lavrists, who sent the money to print
Lavroff's newspaper in Zurich, the _En Avant_, and who seem to have
gradually imbibed German socialism to the extent of thinking the Russian
commune a reactionary and decaying institution not worth stirring a
finger to preserve, and who called for the nationalization of land and
capital. And fourth,--much the most important society,--the
Tchaikowskists, founded in 1869 by one Tchaikowski, who is now a teacher
in London, but was then a student at St. Petersburg. Prince Krapotkin
belonged to this society, and so did Sophia Perowskaia. It was at first
a convivial and mutual improvement club, but from discussing forbidden
subjects and circulating among its members forbidden books it grew into
natural antagonism to Government, and became a focus of revolutionary
agitation. Most of the 193 socialists who were tried in 1874-7 belonged
to it, and that protracted trial killed the society and put an end to
the mission "into the people."

Government had marked the new propaganda with great jealousy. In Russia,
no propaganda among the peasants can remain unobserved. When a stranger
arrives at a Russian village, he is immediately the common talk,
whatever he says passes from mouth to mouth, and he may even be invited
to state his views publicly in the _mir_. A mission conducted under
these conditions soon attracted the notice of the authorities, who, in
1874, discovered it in thirty-seven different provinces of Russia, and
arrested as many as 774 of the propagandists. Some of these were at once
banished administratively to Siberia, and of the rest, 193 were, four
years afterwards, brought up for trial and condemned. With these
apprehensions the nihilist movement collapsed for the moment. Thun
states that Lavroff's newspaper during that period adopted a tone of
despair, and the revolutionists who escaped arrest recognised very
clearly that their scheme of "going into the people" was a complete
mistake, and that some safer and more effective system of tactics must
be concocted. They fell upon two different expedients. The first was the
plan of nihilist colonization. To avoid detection by the authorities, a
band of revolutionists settled down in a given district in a body, got
personally acquainted with the peasantry about them, and then, after
acquiring a sufficient knowledge of their characters, proceeded with due
prudence to impart their ideas to those who seemed most trustworthy,
hoping in this way to be able, unobserved, eventually to leaven the
whole lump. The other plan they now resorted to was an approach to the
tactics of Bakunin, and in the very year, 1876, in which that old
revolutionist died, they began a series of socialist demonstrations at
Odessa, Kasan, and elsewhere, which made a little local sensation at the
time. This was the very opposite kind of tactics to the cautious system
of colonization that was pursued simultaneously with it, but there is
always in revolutionary organization only a step between reticence and
rashness. Open demonstrations like those practised at that period were
simply suicidal folly in Russia, where the forces of the Government were
so immeasurably superior to the forces of the demonstrationists.

In 1878 they changed tactics again, inaugurating that system of
terrorism by which they are best known in the West, and which has given
them a name there at which the world turns pale. The determination to
adopt this system of tactics sprang from an accidental circumstance. The
day after the trial of the 193 ended, one of their comrades, the young
woman Vera Sassulitch, called on General Trepoff, the head of the St.
Petersburg police, on pretence of business, and while he was reading her
papers, shot him with a revolver, flung her weapon on the ground, and
allowed herself to be quietly arrested; and when she was brought up for
trial, pled justification on the ground that her act was merely
retaliation on the General for having subjected a friend of hers, a
young medical student, to a brutal and causeless flogging while in
prison on a political charge. The court having acquitted her, she was
received by the public with every demonstration of enthusiasm, and it
was this remarkable public sympathy that made the revolutionaries
terrorists. They resolved to take up V. Sassulitch's idea of
retaliation, and apply it on a great scale. The whole public of Russia
was at that time considerably flushed with indignation against the
imperial Government. The war in Turkey had revealed, as wars always do,
a great deal of rottenness in the public administration; it had brought
nothing but humiliation and debt upon the country, and it had exacted
cruel sacrifices from the people merely to confer on the Bulgarians the
political and constitutional liberty which was still denied to the
Russians themselves. For the moment the old cry for a constitution rose
again in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and there was a deep feeling far
beyond the circles of the revolutionists that an end should be put to
the autocratic _régime_. The revolutionists found powerful encouragement
in all this outbreak of displeasure. Stepniak, who was himself one of
the most active of them at that period, says their real strength lay,
not in their numbers--which he admits to have been few--but in the
general sympathy they received from what he calls the revolutionary
nation around them. They had however special wrongs of their own to
avenge; hundreds of their friends had been transported without trial;
and in the case of the 193, whose trial was just over, the few who had
been acquitted were nevertheless denied their liberty by the Czar, and
banished administratively to Siberia after all; so that while Russian
society was clamouring on public grounds for the downfall of the
autocratic system, the revolutionists, for revenge, determined upon the
death of the autocrat himself. The various secret societies had united
into a single body, called first the "Troglodytes," and then "Land and
Liberty," for the better prosecution of the nihilist colonization
scheme; but in 1879 they broke again into two parties, one of which, the
Will of the People party, adopted terrorism as its exclusive business
for the time, issued, through its famous executive committee, sentences
of death on the Czar and the State officials; and after making ten
attempts on high officials, five of them fatal, and four attempts on the
Czar himself, finally succeeded in their fifth on the 13th of March,
1881. With this party the political side of their programme overshadowed
the socialistic, and their first demand from the new Czar was for a

The other party--the party of the Black Division--is an agrarian party,
living on the growing discontent of the peasantry, and nursing their cry
for what in Russia is known as the Black Division. It is an old belief
among the Russian people that when the land possessed at any time by the
communes should become too small for the increasing population of the
communes, there would be a new division of all the land of the country,
including, of course, the great estates now owned by the _noblesse_, so
that every inhabitant might be once more accommodated with his proper
share of the soil. This great secular redistribution is the black
division, and it belongs as naturally to the Russian peasants' system of
agrarian ideas as the little local and periodical divisions that take
place within the communes themselves. The Black Division section of the
revolutionists are terrorist in their methods like the other section,
but they care nothing about a constitution, which they say is only a
demand of the _bourgeoisie_, but of no interest or good to the peasant
at all. They have the old aversion to centralized government, which we
have seen to be almost the tradition of Russian revolutionists; they are
all for strengthening the communes, and for a light federal connection;
and of all phases of the Russian revolutionary movement under the reign
of the present Czar theirs is the most important, because it is founding
itself on real and deepening rural discontent, and becoming
substantially a peasants' cry for more land and less rent and taxes.

I have already referred to the astonishing growth of a Russian
proletariat since the Emancipation Act. Professor Janson, an eminent
Russian statistician, calculated that as many as a fourth of the people
of St. Petersburg--229,000 out of 876,000--got public relief in the year
1884. Stepniak, in his recent work on the Russian peasantry, asserts
that a third of the rural population, or 20,000,000 souls in all, are in
the condition of absolute proletarians, and his account of the situation
is entirely supported by the descriptions of a competent and
unprejudiced German economist, Professor Alphonse Thun, who speaks
partly from the results of official inquiries instituted by the Russian
Government into the subject, and partly from his own personal
observation during a continuous residence of two years in the country.
As the subject is of importance to the student of socialistic
institutions as well as of the nihilist movement, I shall make no
apology for devoting some observations to its explanation.

In the first place, though it has never been well understood in Western
Europe, some ten per cent. of the Russian rural population have no legal
claim to a share of the land at all; these are old men who are past
working, widows with children too young to be able to work, and men who
at the time of the Emancipation were personal servants of the great
landowners, and consequently not members of any village commune. Men of
this last class may reside in a village, and may keep a shop or practise
a trade there; but not being born villagers, they possess no right to
participate in the distribution of the village land. They are as much
outside the communistic system as the nobles or the foreign residents.
Russian citizenship alone is not enough to give a right to the land;
local birth in a commune is also an essential pre-requisite, and ability
to work is another. A family gets one share for every able-bodied member
it contains; the share is therefore called a "soul" of land; and
although between one distribution and another the widow may still
retain the "soul" that belonged to her husband, and hire a hand to work
it, yet on the next redistribution she must give it up unless she has a
son who in the meantime has grown to man's estate. The landless widow
and orphan must have been an occasional incident of the Russian village
system from all times; but the incursion of dismissed domestic menials
with no birthright in the commune has arisen only in recent years, when,
in consequence of a conspiracy of causes, so many of the nobility have
been obliged to reduce their establishments.

In the next place, a communistic tenure which gives every new-comer a
right to share in the land of his native village on an equal footing
with those who are already in possession could hardly fail to lead to
excessive subdivision, and in Russia at this moment scarce one family in
a hundred has land enough to furnish its maintenance for half the year.
The usual size of holding is ten acres, of which--cultivated as they are
on the old three-field system--one third is always fallow, and the
remainder, in consequence of the rude method of agriculture that
prevails, yields only two, or at most three, returns of the seed. They
have no pasture, because at the time of the emancipation they preferred
to take out their whole claim in arable; and, having no pasture, they
cannot keep cattle as they formerly did because they cannot get manure.
According to the information of Professor Thun, in 1872 8 per cent. of
the families had no cow, and 4 per cent. no horse; and Stepniak says the
inventory of horses taken for military purposes in 1882 showed that
one-fourth of the peasant families had then no horse. Russia is, in
fact, a vast continent of crofters, practising primitive husbandry on
mere "cat's-plots" of land, and depending for the greater part of their
subsistence on some auxiliary trade. In one respect they have the
advantage over our Scotch crofters; they practise, in many cases,
skilled trades. Of course they work as ploughmen or fishermen when that
sort of work is wanted, or they will hire a piece of waste land from a
neighbouring owner and bring it into rude cultivation; but every variety
of craft is to be found among them. They are weavers, hatters,
cabinet-makers, workers in metals; they make shoes, or images, or
candles, or musical instruments, or grindstones; they dress furs, they
knit lace, they train singing-birds. According to the official inquiry,
most of the goods of some of the best commercial houses of Moscow,
trading in Parisian silk hats and Viennese furniture, are manufactured
by these peasants in their rural villages. A curious and very remarkable
characteristic is mentioned by Thun: not only has every Russian his
bye-industry, but every village has a different bye-industry from its
neighbour. One is a village of coopers--a very thriving trade, it
appears; another a village of tailors--a declining one, in consequence
of the competition of ready-made stuff from the towns; another--and
there are several such--may be a village of beggars, with mendicity for
their second staff; and another a village of seamen, going in a body in
spring to the Baltic or the Volga, and leaving only their women and
children to tend the farm till their return in the autumn. The Russians
always work in artels whether at home or abroad, and to work in artels
they must of course follow the same industry. Their individual earnings
in their auxiliary occupations are comparatively good; they make
three-fourths of their annual income from that source; but it seems
every trade is now overcrowded, and there is some difficulty in
obtaining constant employment.

Then the burdens of the peasantry are very heavy. In Russia the superior
classes enjoy many exemptions from taxation, and the public revenue is
taken mainly from the peasant classes. The annual redemption money they
have to pay to the State for their land is a most serious obligation,
and between one thing and another the burdens on the land in a vast
number of cases exceed its net return very considerably. Professor Thun
states, that in 2,009 cases of letting holdings which had occurred in
the province of Moscow at the time he wrote, the average rent received
was only 3 roubles 56 kopecks per "soul" (land-share), while the average
taxation was 10 roubles 30 kopecks. Stepniak says that in the
thirty-seven provinces of European Russia the class who were formerly
State peasants pay in taxes of every description no less than 92.75 per
cent. of the average net produce of their land; and that the class who
were formerly serfs of private owners pay as much as 192.25 per cent. of
the net produce of theirs. Landowning on these terms is manifestly a
questionable privilege, and the _moujik_ pays his land taxes as the
Scotch crofter has sometimes to pay his rent, not out of the produce of
his holding, but out of the wages of his auxiliary labour; but the
Scotch crofter, under his system of individual tenure, has one great
resource which is wanting to the other: he can always cut the knot of
his troubles by throwing up his holding, if he chooses, and emigrating.
To the Russian peasant emigration brings no relief. He is born a
proprietor, and cannot escape the obligation of his position wherever he
may go. He may try to let his ground--and in many cases he does--but, as
we see, he cannot often get enough rent to meet the dues. He may leave
his village, if he will, but his village liabilities travel with him
wherever he may settle. He cannot obtain work anywhere in Russia without
showing his pass from his own commune; and since, under the principle of
joint liability that rules in the communistic system, the members of the
commune who remain at home would have to pay the emigrant's arrears if
he failed to pay them himself, they are not likely to renew the pass to
a defaulter. The Russian peasants are thus nearly as much _adstricti
glebæ_ as they ever were; they are now under the power of the commune as
completely as they were before under the power of their masters; and
their difficulty is still how they can possibly obtain emancipation.
Sometimes they will defy the commune, forego the advantage of a lawful
pass, crowd the ranks of that large body in Russia who are known as the
"illegal men," and sometimes, we are assured by Professor Thun, a whole
village, every man and every family, will secretly disappear in a body
and seek refuge from the tax-collector by settling in the steppes. The
natural right of every man to the land is thus, in the principal country
where any attempt is made to realize it, nothing but a harassing
pecuniary debt.

Now this class of worse than landless emigrants--men who carry their
land as a perpetual burden on their back from which they can get no
respite--is already very numerous in Russia. Thun says there are
millions of them. As far back as 1872, nearly half the town population
of Moscow and more than a fifth of the population of the landward
district were strangers, who were inscribed members of rural communes
elsewhere; and in many purely country districts some 14 per cent. of the
people have no houses because they are not living in the villages they
belong to. Sir Robert Morier says in his report to the Foreign Office in
September, 1887, on Pauperism in Russia (p. 2): "It is officially stated
that in each of the larger provinces, such as Kursk, Tambow, Kostroma,
etc., over 100,000 peasants have abandoned the plot of ground granted to
them (8 acres) on one pretext or another in order to seek means of
subsistence elsewhere. (This probably means flocking to the larger
towns.) The number of beggars in 71 Governments was stated to be
300,000, of which 182,000 were peasant proprietors. This number is,
however, far below the mark." But, as we learn from Stepniak, the bulk
of the landless peasants, _i.e._ those who no longer cultivate their
holdings, do not leave their native villages, but seek employment as
hirelings in the village itself or in its neighbourhood, and wander as
day labourers from one master to another. Their families continue to
live in their old cottage in the village, and the father returns to it
when out of employment.

Their land is generally taken by a class of small usurers (_koulaks_)
who have grown up in every Russian village since the emancipation. These
koulaks are in most cases fellow-peasants who have saved some money, but
they are frequently strangers who have come and opened a store in the
place, and have no right of their own to a share in the land and in the
councils of the village. Stepniak mentions one province where as much as
from 24 to 36 per cent. of the land is concentrated into the hands of
these rich usurers. Even the peasants who still retain their land in
their own hands are often deeply indebted to them, and in some cases
part with bits of their land without parting with all; and the general
tendency of the present economic situation is to divide the peasantry of
every village into a class of comparatively rich peasants, on the one
hand, holding and cultivating most of the land, and a larger class of
rural proletarians, without land and having nothing to live by but their
manual trade. The tendency, in short, is towards the break-up of the
communal tenure, and instead of the Russian Commune invading Europe, as
Cavour once said there was fear it would do, we are likely to see the
individual tenure of Western Europe invading Russia and superseding
primitive rural institutions in that country, as it has already
superseded them in others. "It is quite evident," says Stepniak, "that
Russia is marching in this direction. If nothing happens to check or
hinder the process of interior disintegration in our villages, in
another generation we shall have on one side an agricultural proletariat
of sixty or seventy millions, and on the other a few thousand landlords,
mostly former koulaks and mir-eaters, in possession of all the land." It
is legally permissible at present for a Russian commune, if it so
choose, to abolish its communal system of property and adopt individual
property instead of it; and although this has been very seldom done as
yet, we are told by Thun that the rich peasants and the very poor
peasants are both strongly in favour of the step, because it would give
the one permanent ownership of the land and the other permanent relief
from its burdens. When a commune gets divided in this way into a rich
class of members and a poor class, the old brotherliness and mutual
helpfulness of the Russian village are said by the same authority always
to disappear and a more selfish spirit to take their place; but then it
should be remembered how much easier it is to assist a neighbour out of
a little difficulty of the way than to meet the unremitting claims of a
class that have sunk into permanent poverty. Anyhow, the temptation is
equally strong on both parties to escape from the worries of their
present situation through the rich buying out the poor.

Another tendency working in the same direction is the rapid dissolution
of the old system of large house-communities that prevailed before the
emancipation. The average household has been reduced from seven and a
half to five souls, the married children setting up houses of their own
instead of dwelling under one roof with their father and grandfather.
The house is a mere hut, with no furniture but a table and a wooden
bench used by night for a bed, but still the separate _ménage_ has
increased to an embarrassing extent the expenses of the peasant's living
at the very time that other circumstances have reduced his resources.
The reason for the break-up of the house-communities has been the desire
to escape partly from the tyranny of the head of the household, but
chiefly from the incessant quarrels that prevailed between the several
members about the amount they each contributed to the common funds as
compared with the amount they ate and drank out of them. One of the
brothers goes to St. Petersburg during the winter months as a cabman and
brings back a hundred roubles, while another gets work as a forester
near home, and earns no more than twenty-five. Now, according to an
author quoted by Stepniak, who is describing a family among whom he has
lived, the question always is: "Why should he (the forester) consume
with such avidity the tea and sugar dearly purchased with the cabman's
money? And in general, why should this tea be absorbed with such
greediness by all the numerous members of the household--by the elder
brother, for instance, who alone drank something like eighty cups a day
(the whole family consumed about nine hundred cups per diem) whilst he
did not move a finger towards earning all this tea and sugar? Whilst the
cabman was freezing in the cold night air, or busying himself with some
drunken passenger, or was being abused and beaten by a policeman on duty
near some theatre, this elder brother was comfortably stretched upon his
belly, on the warm family oven, pouring out some nonsense about
twenty-seven bears whom he had seen rambling through the country with
their whelps in search of new land for settlement." And so the quarrel
goes round; always the old difficulty of _meum_ and _tuum_, so hard to
reconcile except under a _régime_ of individual property.

In fact, the shifts to which the Russian peasantry, like other
peasantries elsewhere, have been reduced to solve this difficulty in the
management of their common land constitute one main cause of their
agricultural backwardness and their consequent poverty. Elisée Reclus
calculates that if the Russian fields were cultivated like those of
Great Britain, Russia could produce, instead of six hundred and fifty
million hectolitres of corn annually, about five milliards, which would
be sufficient to feed a population of five hundred million souls. A few
lessons in good husbandry will do much more for the comfort of a people
than many changes of social organization; but good husbandry is
virtually impossible under a system of unstable tenure, which turns a
man necessarily out of his holding every few years for the purpose of a
new distribution of the land, and which compels him to take his holding,
when he gets it, in some thirty or forty scattered plots.
Redistributions, it is true, do not occur so very frequently as we might
suppose. As Russian land is all cultivated on a three years' rotation,
one might be apt to look for a new distribution every three years, but
that almost never occurs. Thun states that in the province of Moscow
during the twenty years 1858-1878 the average interval of distribution
was 12½ years, four rotations; that 49 per cent. of the communes had a
distribution only once in 15 years, and 37 per cent. only once in 20
years. The dislike to frequent distributions is growing, on the obvious
and very reasonable ground that they either discourage a man from doing
well by his land, or they inflict on him the grave injustice of
depriving him of the ground he has himself improved before he has reaped
from it the due reward of his labour. The tendency towards individual
property is therefore strongly at work here, and as this system of
periodical redistribution is established merely to give every man that
natural right by virtue of his birth to a share in the land, which is
now in so many cases such a delusive irony, the resistance to the new
tendency cannot be expected to be very resolute. The _runrig_ system of
cultivation, which prevails in Russia in the same form as it did in the
Highlands of Scotland, does not give any similar appearance of decay.
Stepniak says the peasants still prefer that arrangement because it
allows room for perfect fairness--perfect reconciliation of the _meum_
and _tuum_--in the distribution of their most precious commodity, the
land, which always presents great variety as to quality of soil and
situation with respect to roads, water, the village, etc. Under a
communal system with many members this method of arrangement is almost
indispensable to avoid quarrels and prevent the indolent from shirking
their proper share of the work, but its agricultural disadvantages are
so great that it never long resists an improving husbandry. Although an
owner, the Russian peasant, in consequence of the shifting nature of his
subject, is said by Stepniak to have none of that passionate feeling of
ownership and that profound delight in his land which are characteristic
of the peasant proprietors of the West, but he has--what is really the
same thing--a deep sense of personal dignity from its possession, and he
feels himself to have lost caste if he is forced to give up his holding
and become a mere _batrak_, or wage labourer. All the pride of ownership
is already there, and in the changes of the immediate future it will
have plenty of opportunity for asserting its place.

Under the pressure of this singular economic movement, the nihilist
agitation is now developing largely into a peasants' cry for more land
and less rent and taxes. As I have said, the Russian peasantry look for
the great black division once in an age. The "Old Believers" mix this
idea up with their dreams of a great millennial reign, and keep on
thinking that the day after to-morrow is to bring in the happy period
before the end of the world, when truth is to prevail and the land is to
be equally divided among all; and a feeling easily gets about among the
peasantry generally that the "black division" is at last coming. Such a
feeling was very widespread during the reign of the late Czar, and,
indeed, is still so. Rumours fly every now and then from hamlet to
hamlet like wildfire, no one knows whence or how, that the division is
to be made in a month, or a week, or a year; that the Czar has decreed
it, and when it does not come, that the Czar's wishes have for the time
been thwarted, as they had so often been thwarted before, by the selfish
machinations of the nobility. For the peasant has a profound and
touching belief in his Czar. There may be agrarian socialism in his
creed, but it is not the agrarian socialism of the schools. The first
article of his faith--and it would appear to be the natural faith of the
peasant all the world over--is that the earth is the Lord's and not the
nobility's; but his second is that the Czar is the Lord's steward, sent
for the very purpose of dividing the land justly among his people. If
the peasant hopes for the black division, he hopes for it from the Czar.
The Emancipation Act has been far from giving him the land or the
liberty he looked for, but he believes--and nothing will shake him out
of the belief--that the Emancipation Law which the Czar actually
decreed was a righteous law that would have met all the people's wishes
and claims, but that this law has been altered seriously to their
disadvantage, under the influence of the nobility, in the process of
carrying it into execution. But his confidence always is that the Czar
will still interfere and put everything to rights. And when, only a few
years ago, the revolutionist Stephanovitch stirred up some disturbances
in Southern Russia, which were commonly dignified at the time with the
name of a peasants' insurrection, he was only able to succeed in doing
what he did by first going to St. Petersburg with a petition from the
peasants of the district to the Czar, and then issuing on his return a
false proclamation in the Czar's name, commanding the people to rise
against the nobility, who were declared to be persistently obstructing
and defeating his Majesty's good and just intentions for his loyal
people's welfare. If an imperial proclamation were issued to the
contrary effect--a proclamation condemning or repudiating the operations
of the peasants--the latter would refuse to believe it to be genuine.
That occurs again and again about this very idea of the black division,
which has obtained possession of the brains of the rural population. It
often happens that in a season of excitement, like the time of the
Russo-Turkish war, or of famine, like the winter of 1880-81, the rumours
and expectations of the black division become especially definite and
lively, and lead to meetings and discussions and disturbances which the
Government think it prudent to stop. In 1879 the Minister of the
Interior, with this object in view, issued a circular contradicting the
rumours that were spread abroad, which was read in all the villages and
affixed to the public buildings. It stated, as plainly as it was
possible to state anything, that there would be no redistribution, and
that the landlords would retain their property; but it produced no
effect. Professor Engelhardt wrote one of his published "Letters from a
Village" at that very moment, and states that the _moujiks_ would not
understand the circular to mean anything more than a request that they
would for a time abstain from gossiping at random about the coming
redistribution. One of their reasons for making this odd
misinterpretation is curious. The circular warned the people against
"evil-intentioned" persons who disseminated false reports, and gave
instructions to the authorities to apprehend them. These
evil-intentioned persons were, of course, the nihilist agitators, who
were making use of these reports to foment an agrarian insurrection; but
the peasants took these enemies of the Government to be the landlords
and others who had, they believed, set themselves against the
redistribution movement and prevented the benevolence and righteous
purposes of the Czar from descending upon his people. In some parts of
Russia there has sprung up since 1870 a group of peasantry known as "the
medalmen," who have persuaded themselves that the Czar not only wants to
give them more land, but has long since decreed their exemption from all
taxation except the poll tax. They say, moreover, that he struck a medal
to commemorate this gracious design of his, which has been, as usual, so
wickedly frustrated by his subordinates; and that even, as things are,
one has but to get hold of one of these medals and show it to the
collector, and the collector is bound to give the holder the exemption
he wants. The medals to which so much virtue is ascribed are merely the
medals struck to commemorate the Emancipation of the Serfs; but the
"medalmen," who are generally men that have parted with their land, sold
their houses, and settled at the mines, pay very high prices for one of
these medals, wear it constantly about their necks, and think it will
secure them a genuine respite from the burden of taxation they have to

The nihilist propagandists think--and the idea seems very
remarkable--that this childish and ignorant confidence in the Czar will
not be able to stand much longer the strain of the increasing
difficulties of the rural situation. The propagandists make it their
business to keep alive the idea of the black division in the hearts of
the _moujiks_, and make use of every successive disappointment at its
continued delay as an instrument of alienating the affections of the
people from the throne. A peasantry are very slow to throw over old
sentiments, and will suffer long before breaking with the past, but they
take a sure grip of their own interest, and they will turn sometimes
very decisively and very gregariously to new deliverers. The Russian
peasants see themselves settled on plots of ground too small to work
with profit, and overburdened with taxes; they have to pay sixty per
cent. of all their earnings in dues of all kinds on their land; and they
cast their eyes abroad and see two-thirds of the country still
unpossessed by the people, one-half still owned by the State, and
one-sixth by the greater landowners; and with the communistic ideas in
which they have been nursed, they feel that it is time for a new
division of the greater order to take place. A gigantic crofter question
is impending, and this agrarian agitation for more land is likely enough
to make nihilism a more formidable thing in the future than it has been
in the past. Hitherto it has taken little hold of the peasantry. At
first it was a movement of educated young Russia merely, and might be
counted with the ordinary intellectual excesses of youth. It only became
a serious political force after the Emancipation Act; but it was still a
movement of the upper classes, and in spite of immense exertions it has
remained so. The situation, however, is rapidly changing, and with the
rise--so remarkable in many ways--of a numerous rural proletariat in the
country that was supposed to enjoy special protection against it, with
the growing distress and discontent of the peasantry, with the louder
and more persistent cries for the black division, which their hereditary
conception of agrarian justice suggests to them as the only solution of
their troubles, who will say what to-morrow may bring forth?

Meanwhile the Will of the People party has continued its activity. We
still hear occasionally of murders, and demonstrations, and arrests, and
discoveries of nihilist plots on the life of the Czar or of high
servants of the Crown, and of alarming discoveries of the hold the
movement was taking in the army. But, according to one of the most
recent writers on the subject, the author of "Socialismus und
Anarchismus, 1883-1886," who admits, however, that it is very difficult
to obtain authentic information about it under the rigorous system of
repression at present practised by the Russian authorities, a small
section of this party, whom he calls the followers of Peter Lavroff,
have been developing more in line with German Social Democracy, and have
organized themselves into a society called the Labour Emancipation
League, which prefers peaceful means of agitation, and in March, 1885,
published its programme, demanding (1) a constitution, (2) the
nationalization of land, (3) the handing over of factories to the
possession of societies of productive labourers, (4) free education, (5)
abolition of a standing army, and (6) full liberty of association and
meeting. The same writer states, however, that this socialist group are
not numerous, and that the various robberies, murders, plots against the
Czar's life, incitements of peasant disturbances, seizures of weapons
and printing presses that keep on occurring, show that the nihilists, as
the others still appear to be called, are much the most active and the
most important section of the revolutionary party. He mentions also that
in 1884 considerable sensation was produced by the discovery of an
anarchist secret society in Warsaw, with several magistrates at its
head, which aimed at creating a revolution in Poland,--Prussian and
Austrian Poland, as well as Russian,--and rebuilding the Polish nation
on a socialist basis. On the apprehension of its leaders it dissolved,
but sprang to life again almost immediately in two separate
organizations--one directly allied with the Russian Terrorists, and the
other, under the influence of a Jew named Mendelssohn, suppressing its
Polish nationalism for the present, and linking itself with the Russian
socialists--presumably the followers of Lavroff just mentioned.



The renewal of the socialist agitation has not been unproductive of
advantage, for it has led to a general recognition that the economic
position of the people is far from satisfactory and is not free from
peril, and that industrial development, on the lines on which it has
hitherto been running, offers much less prospect than was at one time
believed of effecting any substantial, steady, and progressive
improvement in their condition. It is only too manifest that the immense
increase of wealth which has marked the present century has been
attended with surprisingly little amelioration in the general lot of the
people, and it is in no way remarkable that this fact should tend to
dishearten the labouring classes, and fill reflecting minds with serious
concern. Under the influence of this experience economists of the
present day meet socialism in a very different way from Bastiat and the
economists of 1848. They entertain no longer the same absolute
confidence in the purely beneficent character of the operation of the
principles at present guiding the process of industrial evolution, or in
the sovereign virtue of competition, unassisted and unconnected, as an
agency for the distribution as well as the production of wealth; and
they no longer declare that there is not and cannot possibly be a social
question. On the contrary, some of them take almost as unfavourable a
view of the road we are on as the socialists themselves. Mr. Cairnes,
one of the very ablest of them, says: "The fund available for those who
live by labour tends, in the progress of society, while growing actually
larger, to become a constantly smaller fraction of the entire national
wealth. If, then, the means of any one class of society are to be
permanently limited to this fund, it is evident, assuming that the
progress of its members keeps pace with that of other classes, that its
material condition in relation to theirs cannot but decline. Now, as it
would be futile to expect, on the part of the poorest and most ignorant
of the population, self-denial and prudence greater than that actually
practised by the classes above them, the circumstances of whose life are
so much more favourable than theirs for the cultivation of these
virtues, the conclusion to which I am brought is this, that unequal as
is the distribution of wealth already in this country, the tendency of
industrial progress--on the supposition that the present separation
between industrial classes is maintained--is towards an inequality
greater still. The rich will be growing richer; and the poor, at least
relatively, poorer. It seems to me, apart altogether from the question
of the labourer's interest, that these are not conditions which furnish
a solid basis for a progressive social state; but having regard to that
interest, I think the considerations adduced show that the first and
indispensable step towards any serious amendment of the labourer's lot
is that he should be, in one way or other, lifted out of the groove in
which he at present works, and placed in a position compatible with his
becoming a sharer in equal proportion with others in the general
advantages arising from industrial progress." ("Leading Principles," p.
340.) He thinks it beyond question that the condition of the labouring
population is not so linked to the progress of industrial improvements
that we may count on it rising _pari passu_ with that progress; because,
in the first place, the labourer can only benefit from industrial
inventions which cheapen commodities that enter into his expenditure,
and the bulk of his expenditure is on agricultural products, which are
prevented from being cheapened by the increase of population always
increasing the demand for them; and, second, the labourer is practically
more and more divorced from the control of capital, and reduced to the
position of a recipient of wages, and there is no tendency in wages to
grow _pari passu_ with the growth of wealth, because the demand for
labour, on which, in the last analysis, the rate of wages depends, is
always in an increasing degree supplied by inventions which dispense
with labour. He is thus debarred from participating in the advantages of
industrial progress either as consumer or as producer: as consumer, by
over-population; as producer, by his divorce from capital. Mr. Cairnes,
like most economists, differs from socialists in thinking that the first
requisite for any material improvement in the condition of the labouring
classes lies in effective restraints on population, but he says that
"even a very great change in the habits of the labouring classes as
bearing upon the increase of population--a change far greater than there
seems any solid ground for expecting--would be ineffectual, so long as
the labourer remains a mere receiver of wages, to accomplish any great
improvement in his state; any improvement at all commensurate with what
has taken place and may be expected hereafter to take place in the lot
of those who derive their livelihood from the profits of capital" (p.
335). Here he is entirely at one with socialists in believing that the
only surety for a sound industrial progress lies in checking the further
growth of capitalism by the encouragement of co-operative production,
which, by furnishing the labouring classes with a share in the one fund
that grows with the growth of wealth, the fund of capital, offers them
"the sole means of escape from a harsh and hopeless destiny" (p. 338).
Mr. Cairnes, then, agrees with the socialists in declaring that the
position of the wage-labourer is becoming less and less securely linked
with the progressive improvement of society, and that the only hope of
the labourer's future lies in his becoming a capitalist by virtue of
co-operation; only, of course, he is completely at issue with them in
regard to the means by which this change is to be effected, believing
that its introduction by the direct intervention of the State would be
unnecessary, ineffectual, and pernicious.

I am disposed to think that Mr. Cairnes takes too despondent a view of
the possibilities of progress that are comprised in the position of the
wage-labourer, but it is precisely that view that has lent force to the
socialist criticism of the present order of things, and to the socialist
calls for a radical transformation by State agency. The main charges
brought by socialists against the existing economy are the three
following, all of which, they allege, are consequences of the
capitalistic management of industry and unregulated competition:--1st,
that it tends to reduce wages to the minimum required to give the
labourer his daily bread, and that it tends to prevent them from rising
above that minimum; 2nd, that it has subjected the labourer's life to
innumerable vicissitudes, made trade insecure, mutable and oscillatory,
and created relative over-population; and, 3rd, that it enables and even
forces the capitalist to rob the labourer of the whole increase of value
which is the fruit of his labour. These are the three great heads of
their philippic against modern society: the hopeless oppression of the
"iron and cruel law" of necessary wages, the mischief of incessant
crises and changes and of the chaotic _régime_ of chance, and the
iniquity of capital in the light of their doctrine of value. Let us
examine them in their order.

I. Socialists found their first charge partly on their interpretation of
the actual historical tendency of things, and partly on the teaching of
Ricardo and other economists on natural wages. Now, to begin with the
question of historical fact, the effect which has been produced by the
large system of production on the distribution of wealth and the general
condition of the working class is greatly misconceived by them. So far
as the distribution of wealth is concerned, the principal difference
that has occurred may be described as the decadence of the lower middle
classes, a decline both in the number of persons in proportion to
population who enjoy intermediate incomes, and also in the relative
amount of the average income they enjoy. Their individual income may be
higher than that of the corresponding class 150 or 200 years ago, but it
bears a less ratio to the average income of the nation. The reason of
this decline is, of course, obvious. The yeomanry, once a seventh of our
population, and the small masters in trade have gradually given way
before the economic superiority of the large capital or other causes,
and modern industry has as yet produced no other class that can, by
position and numbers, fill their room; for though, no doubt, the great
industries call into being auxiliary industries of various kinds, which
are still best managed on the small scale by independent tradesmen, the
number of middling incomes which the greater industries have thus
contributed to create has been far short of the number they have
extinguished. The same causes have, of course, exercised very important
effects on the economic condition of the working class. They have
reduced them more and more to the permanent position of wage-labourers,
and have left them relatively fewer openings than they once possessed
for investing their savings in their own line, and fewer opportunities
for the abler and more intelligent of them to rise to a competency. This
want may perhaps be ultimately supplied under existing industrial
conditions by the modern system of co-operation, which combines some of
the advantages of the small capital with some of the advantages of the
large, though it lacks one of the chief advantages of both, the
energetic, uncontrolled initiative of the individual capitalist. But at
present, at any rate, it is premature to expect this, and as things
stand, many of the old pathways that linked class with class are now
closed without being replaced by modern substitutes, and working men are
more purely and permanently wage-labourers than they used to be. But
while the wage-labourer has perhaps less chance than before of becoming
anything else, it is a mistake to suppose, as is sometimes done, that he
is worse off, or even, as is perhaps invariably imagined, that he has a
less share in the wealth of the country than he had when the wealth of
the country was less. On the contrary, the position of the wage-labourer
is really better than it has been for three hundred years. If we turn to
the period of the English Revolution, we find that the income which the
labourer and his family together were able to earn was habitually
insufficient to maintain them in the way they were accustomed to live.
Sir M. Hale, in his "Discourse Touching the Poor," published in 1683,
says the family of a working man, consisting of husband, wife, and four
children, could not be supported in meat, drink, clothing, and
house-rent on less than 10s. a week, and that he might possibly be able
to make that amount, if he got constant employment, and if two of his
children, as well as their mother, could earn something by their labour
too. Gregory King classifies the whole labouring population of the
country in his time, except a few thousand skilled artisans, among the
classes who decrease the wealth of the country, because, not earning
enough to keep them, they had to obtain occasional allowances from
public funds. We do well to grieve over the pauperism that exists now
in England. A few years ago, one person in every twenty received
parochial support, and one in thirty does so yet. These figures, of
course, refer to those in receipt of relief at one time, and not to all
who received relief during a year. But for Scotland we have statistics
of both, and the latter come as nearly as possible to twice as many as
the former. If the same proportion rules in England, then every
fifteenth person receives relief in the course of the year.[4] But in
King's time, out of a population of five millions and a half, 600,000
were in receipt of alms, _i.e._, more than one in ten; and if their
children under 16 years of age were included, their number would amount
to 900,000, or one in six. Now, while the labourers' wages were then, as
a rule, unequal to maintain them in the way they lived, we know that
their scale of living was much below that which is common among their
class to-day. The only thing which was much cheaper then than now was
butcher meat, mutton being only 2d. a lb., and beef, 1¼d.; but half the
population had meat only twice a week, and a fourth only once. The
labourer lived chiefly on bread and beer, and bread was as dear as it is
now. Potatoes had not come into general use. Butter and milk were
cheaper than now, but were not used to the same extent. Fuel, light, and
clothing were all much dearer, and salt was so much so as to form an
appreciable element in the weekly bill. When so many of the staple
necessaries of life were high in price, the labourer's wages naturally
could not afford a meat diet. Nothing can furnish a more decisive proof
of the rise in the real remuneration of the wage-labourer since the
Revolution than the fact that the wages of that period were insufficient
to maintain the lower standard of comfort prevalent then, without
parochial aid, while the wages of the same classes to-day are generally
able to maintain their higher standard of comfort without such
supplementary assistance. Then the hours of labour were, on the whole,
longer; the death rate in London was 1 in 27, in place of 1 in 40 now;
and all those general advantages of advancing civilization, which are
the heritage of all, were either absent or much inferior.

These facts sufficiently show that if the rich have got richer since the
Revolution, the poor have not got poorer, and that the circumstances of
the labouring class have substantially improved with the growth of
national wealth. As far as their mere money income is concerned there is
some reason for thinking that the improvement has been as near as may be
proportional with the increase of wealth. The general impression is the
reverse of this. It is usual to hear it said that while the labourers'
circumstances have undoubtedly improved absolutely, they have not
improved relatively, as compared with the progress in the wealth of the
country and the share of it which other classes have succeeded in
obtaining. But this impression must be qualified, if not entirely
rejected, on closer examination. Data exist by which it can be to some
extent tested, and these data show that while considerable alterations
have been made in the distribution of wealth since the rise of the great
industries, these alterations have not been unfavourable to the
labouring classes, but that the proportion of the wealth of the country
which falls to the working man to-day is very much the same--is indeed
rather better than worse--than the proportion which fell to his share
two hundred years ago. Gregory King made an estimate of the distribution
of wealth among the various classes of society in England in 1688,
founded partly on the poll-books, hearth-books, and other official
statistical records, and partly on personal observation and inquiry in
the several towns and counties of England; and Dr. C. Davenant, who says
he had carefully examined King's statistics himself, checking them by
calculations of his own and by the schemes of other persons, pronounces
them to be "very accurate and more perhaps to be relied on than anything
that has been ever done of a like kind." Now, a comparison of King's
figures with the estimate of the distribution of the national income
made by Mr. Dudley Baxter from the returns of 1867, will afford some
sort of idea--though of course only approximately, and perhaps not very
closely so--of the changes that have actually occurred. King takes the
family income as the unit of his calculations. Baxter, on the other
hand, specifies all bread-winners separately--men, women, and children;
but to furnish a basis of comparison, let us take the men as
representing a family each, and if so, that would give us 4,006,260
working-class families in the country in 1867. This is certainly a high
estimate of their number, because in 1871 there were only five million
of families in England; and according to the calculations of Professor
Leone Levi, the working class comprises no more than two-thirds of the
population, and would consequently consist in 1871 of no more than
3,300,000 families. If we were to take this figure as the ground of our
calculations, the result would be still more striking; but let us take
the number of working-class families to have been four millions in 1867.
The average income of a working-class family in King's time was £12 12s.
(including his artisan and handicraft families along with the other
labourers); the average income of a working class family now is £81. The
average income of English families generally in King's time was £32; the
average income of English families generally now is £162. The average
income of the country has thus increased five-fold, while the average
income of the working class has increased six and a half times. The
ratio of the working class income to the general income stood in King's
time as 1:2½, and now as 1:2. In 1688, 74 per cent. of the whole
population belonged to the working class, and they earned collectively
26 per cent. of the entire income of the country; in 1867--according to
the basis we have adopted, though the proportion is doubtless really
less--80 per cent. of the whole population belonged to the working
class, and they earned collectively 40 per cent. of the entire income of
the country. Their share of the population has increased 6 per cent.;
their share of the income 14 per cent.

Now, I am far from adducing these considerations with the view of
suggesting that the present condition of the working classes or the
present distribution of wealth is even approximately satisfactory, but I
think they ought to be sufficient to disperse the gloomy apprehensions
which trouble many minds as if, with all our national prosperity, the
condition of the poorer classes were growing ever worse and could not
possibly, under existing industrial conditions, grow any better; to
prevent us from prematurely condemning a system of society, whose
possibilities for answering the legitimate aspirations of the working
class are so far from being exhausted, that it may rather be said that a
real beginning has hardly as yet been made to accomplish them; and to
give ground for the hope that the existing economy, which all admit to
be a most efficient instrument for the production of wealth, may, by
wise correction and management, be made a not inadequate agency for its

The socialists are not more fortunate in their argument from the
teaching of economists than in their account of the actual facts and
tendency of history. The "iron and cruel law" of necessary wages is, as
expounded by economists, neither so iron nor so cruel as Lassalle
represented it to be. They taught that the price of labour, like the
price of everything else, tended to settle at the level of the relative
cost of its production, and that the cost of its production meant the
cost of producing the subsistence required to maintain the labourer in
working vigour and to rear his family to continue the work of society
after his day; but they always represented this as a minimum below which
wages would not permanently settle, but above which they might from
other causes remain for a continuity considerably elevated, and which,
even as a minimum, was in an essential way ruled by the consent of the
labouring classes themselves, and dependent on the standard of living
they chose habitually to adopt. If the rate of wages were forced down
below the amount necessary to maintain that customary standard of
living, the marriage rate of the labouring classes would tend to fall
and the rate of mortality to rise till the supply of labour diminished
sufficiently to restore the rate of wages to its old level. And
conversely, if the price of labour rose above that limit, the marriage
rate among the labouring class would tend to rise and the rate of
mortality to fall, till the numbers of the working population increased
to such an extent as to bring it down again. But the rate of marriage
depended on the will and consent of the labouring class, and their
consent was supposed to be given or withheld according as they
themselves considered the current wages sufficient or insufficient to
support a family upon. The amount of the labourer's "necessary"
subsistence was never thought to be a hard and fast limit inflexibly
fixed by physical conditions. It was not a bare living; it was the
living which had become customary or was considered necessary by the
labourer. Its amount might be permanently raised, if in consequence of a
durable rise of wages a higher standard of comfort came to be habitual
and to be counted essential, and the addition so made to it would then
become as real an element of natural or necessary wages in the economic
sense as the rest. Its amount might also permanently fall, if the
labourers ceased to think it necessary and contentedly accommodated
their habits to the reduced standard, and there might thus ensue a
permanent degradation of the labourer, such as took place in Ireland in
the present century, when the labouring class adjusted themselves to
reduction after reduction till their lower standard of living served, in
the first place, to operate as an inducement to marriage instead of a
check on it, because marriage could not make things worse, and at least
lightened the burdens of life by the sympathy that shared them; and
served, in the second place, to impair the industrial efficiency of the
labourer till he was hardly worth better wages if he could have got
them. So far then was the doctrine of economists from involving any
"iron or cruel" limit that they always drew from it the lesson that it
was in the power of the labouring classes to elevate themselves by the
pleasant, if somewhat paradoxical, expedient of first enlarging their
scale of expenditure. "Pitch your standard of comfort high, and your
income will look after itself," is scarcely an unfair description of the
rule of prudent imprudence they inculcated on working people. They
believed that the chief danger to which that class was exposed was their
own excessive and too rapid multiplication, and they considered the best
protection against this danger to lie in the powerful preventive of a
high scale of habitual requirements.

Moreover, Ricardo distinctly maintained that though the natural rate of
wages was determined as he had explained, yet the operation of that
natural law might be practically suspended in a progressive community
for an indefinite period, and that the rate of wages actually given
might even keep on advancing the whole time, because capital was capable
of increasing much more rapidly than population. The price of labour, he
taught, would in that case be always settled by the demand for it which
was created by the accumulation of capital, and the sole condition of
the accumulation of capital was the productive power of labour. The rate
of wages in a progressive community might therefore almost never be in
actual fact determined by this "iron and cruel law" at all, and so there
is not the smallest ground for representing economists as teaching that
the present system compels the rate of wages or the labourer's
remuneration to hover to and fro over the margin of indigence.

Lassalle, then, built his agitation on a combination of errors. He was
wrong in his interpretation of the tendency of actual historical
development; he was wrong in his interpretation of the doctrine of
economists; and now, to complete the confusion, that doctrine is itself
wrong. If we are at all to distinguish a natural or normal rate of wages
from the fluctuating rates of the market, that natural or normal rate
will be found really to depend, not on the cost of producing
subsistence, but on the amount or rate of general production, or the
amount of production _per capita_ in the community, or, in other words,
on the average productivity of labour. It is manifest that this would be
so in a primitive condition of society in which industry was as yet
conducted without the intervention of a special employing class, for
then the wages of labour would consist of its product, and be, in fact,
as Smith says, only another name for it. It would depend, however, not
exclusively on the individual labourer's own efficiency, but also on the
fertility of the soil and the general efficiency of the rest of the
labouring community. While according to his own efficiency he would
possess a greater or smaller stock of articles, which, after providing
for his own wants, he might exchange for other articles produced by his
neighbours; the quantity he would get in exchange for them would be
great or small according to the degree of his neighbour's efficiency.
The average real remuneration of labour, or the average rate of wages,
in such a community would therefore correspond with the average
productivity of its labour. But the same principle holds good in the
more complex organization of industrial society that now exists, though
its operation is more difficult to trace.

The price of labour is now determined by a struggle between the
labourer and the employer, and the fortunes of the struggle move between
two very real, if not very definitely marked, limits, the lower of which
is constituted by the smallest amount which the labourer can afford to
take, and the higher by the largest amount which the employer can afford
to give. The former is determined by the amount necessary to support
life, and the latter by the amount necessary to secure an adequate
profit. Now the space between these two limits will be always great or
small in proportion to the general productivity of labour in the
community. The general productivity of labour acts upon the rate of
wages in two ways, immediately and mediately. Immediately, because, as
is manifest, efficient labour is worth more to the employer than
inefficient; and mediately, as I shall presently show, because it
conduces to a greater diversion of wealth for productive purposes, and
so increases the general demand for labour. In modern society, as in
primitive, the labourer not only obtains a higher remuneration if he is
efficient himself, but gathers a higher remuneration from the efficiency
of his neighbours.

This will be obvious at once to any one who reflects on the improved
remuneration of the common unskilled labourers. The man who works with
pick and shovel makes, according to Mr. Mulhall's estimate, £30 a year
now, while he only made £12 a year in 1800, when bread was about twice
as dear, and yet he probably did quite as good a day's work then as he
does now, except so far as his better wages have themselves helped his
powers of labour, through affording him a more liberal diet, and in that
case the same question is raised, How did he come to get these better
wages? It was not on account of an increase in his own production, for
that was the effect, not the cause; it was on account of the general
increase in the productivity of all labour round about him. The great
improvement in industrial processes have brought in more plentiful
times, and he shares in the general plenty, though he may not have
directly contributed to its production. He gets more for the same work,
not merely because people in general, with their larger surplus, can
afford to give him more, but because, having more to devote to
industrial investment, they increase the demand for labour till they are
obliged to give him more.

The proximate demand for labour is, of course, capital, but the amount
of capital which a community tends to possess--in other words, the
amount of wealth it tends to detach for industrial investment--bears a
constant relation to the amount of its general production. There is a
disposition among economists to speak of the quantity of a nation's
savings, as if it was something given and complete that springs up
independently of industrial conditions, and as irrespectively of the
purpose to which it is to be applied as the number of eggs a fowl lays
or the amount of fruit a tree bears. But, in reality, it is not so. The
amount of a nation's savings is no affair of chance; it is governed much
more by commercial reasons than is sometimes supposed. It is no
sufficient account of the matter to say that men save because they have
a disposition to save, because there is a strong cumulative propensity
in the national character. They save because they think to get a profit
by saving, and the point at which the nation stops saving is the point
at which this expectation ceases to be gratified, the point at which
enough has been accumulated to occupy the entire field of profitable
investment which the community offers at the time. Some part of a
nation's savings will always have originated in a desire to provide
security for the future, but, as this part is less subject to
fluctuation, it exercises less influence in determining the extent of
the whole than the more variable part, which is only saved when there is
sufficient hope of gain from investing it. There may be said to be a
natural amount of capital in a country, in at least as true a sense as
there is a natural price of labour, or a natural price of commodities.
Capital has its bounds in the general industrial conditions and stature
of the community, but it moves and answers these conditions with much
more elasticity than the wage-fund theory used to acknowledge. It is, as
Hermann said, a mere medium of conveyance between consumer and consumer,
and has its size decreed for it by the quantities it has to convey. The
general demand for commodities is a demand for capital. It creates the
expectation of profit which capital is diverted from expenditure to
gratify, and since it is itself in another aspect the general supply of
commodities, it furnishes the possibilities for meeting the demand for
capital which it creates. This whole argument may seem to be reasoning
in a circle or wheeling round a pivot, and so in a sense it may be, for
the wheel of industry is circular. The rate of wages depends on the
demand for labour; the demand for labour depends on the amount of
capital; the amount of capital depends on the aggregate production of
and demand for commodities; and the amount of aggregate production
depends on the average productivity of labour. It is but a more
circuitous way of saying the same thing as the older economists said,
when they declared the rate of wages to depend on the supply of capital,
as compared with population; but it shows that the supply of capital is
a more elastic element than they conceived, that it adjusts and
re-adjusts itself more easily and sensitively to industrial conditions,
including perhaps even those of population, and that it is governed in a
very real way by the great primary factor that determines the whole size
and scale of the industrial system in all its parts, the general
productivity of labour. Taking one country with another, the rate of
wages will be found to observe a certain proportion to the amount of
production _per capita_ in the community.

This view will be confirmed by a comparison of the actual rate of wages
prevalent in different countries. Lord Brassey has published an
important body of positive evidence tending to show that the cost of
labour is the same all over the world, that for the same wages you get
everywhere the same work, and that the higher price of labour in some
countries than in others is simply due to its higher efficiency. Mr.
Cairnes, who did not accept this conclusion unconditionally, had,
however, himself previously estimated that a day's labour in America
produced as much as a day and a third's in Great Britain, to a day and a
half's in Belgium, a day and three-fourths' or two days' in France and
Germany, and to five days' labour in India. Now, when due regard is had
for the influence of special historical circumstances, it will be found
that the rate of wages observes very similar proportions in these
several countries. In America it is higher than the relative
productivity of the country would explain, because a new country with
boundless natural resources creates a permanently exceptional demand for
labour; because the facilities with which land can be acquired and
wrought, even by men without previous agricultural training, affords a
ready correction to temporary redundancies of labour; and because the
labour itself is more mobile, versatile, and energetic in a nation
largely composed of immigrants. Other modifying influences also
interfere to preclude the possibility of a precise correspondence
between national rates of wages and national amounts of production _per
capita_, for different countries vary much in the extent of the fixed
capital they employ to economize personal labour. But enough has been
said to show that, if a natural rate of wages is to be sought at all, it
must be looked for, not in the cost of the production of subsistence,
but in the rate of the production of commodities; and while the standard
of living and the price of labour tend to some extent to keep one
another up, the higher standard of living prevalent among labourers in
some countries is a consequence much more than a condition of the higher
rate of wages, which the higher productivity of labour in those
countries occasions.

There is therefore no ground for Lassalle's representation that the law
of necessary wages condemns ninety-six persons in every hundred to an
existence of hopeless misery to enable the other four to ride in luxury.
The principles that govern the rate of wages are much more flexible than
he supposed, and the experience of trade unions has sufficiently
demonstrated that it is within the power of the wage-labourers
themselves to effect by combination a material increase in the price of
their labour. Trade unions have taken away the shadow of despondency
that lay over the hired labourer's lot. Their margin of effective
operation is strictly limited; still such a margin exists, and they have
turned it to account. They have put the labourer in a position to hold
out for his price; they have converted the question of wages from the
question, how little the labourer can afford to take, into the question,
how much the employer can afford to give. They have been able, in trades
not subject to foreign competition, to effect a permanent rise in wages
at the expense of prices, and they can probably, in all trades, succeed
in keeping the rate of wages well up to its superior limit, viz., to the
point at which, while the skilful employers might still afford to give
more, the unskilful could not do so without ceasing to conduct a
profitable business and being driven out of the field altogether. For
unskilful management tells as ill on wages as inefficient labour. On the
other hand, high wages, like many other difficult conditions,
undoubtedly tend to develop skilful management. The employer is put on
his mettle, and all his administrative resource is called into action
and keen play. They who, like socialists, inveigh against this modern
despot, ought to reflect how much less possible it would have been for
wages to have risen, if industry had been in the hands of hired managers
who were not put to their mettle, because they had no personal stake in
the result. It must not be forgotten, however, that while trade unions
are able to keep the rate of wages up to its superior limit, they have
no power to raise that limit itself. This can only be done by an
increase in the general productivity of labour, and, in fact, the action
of trade unions could not have been so effective as it has been, unless
the high production of the country afforded them the conditions for
success. And since, in consequence of their action and vigilance, the
rate of wages in the trades they represent may be now taken as usually
standing close to its superior limit, the chief hope of any further
substantial improvement in the future must now be placed in the
possibility of raising that limit by an increased productivity.

Of this the prospect is really considerable and promising. Of course
labourers will never benefit to the full from improvements in the
productive arts, until by some arrangement, or by many arrangements,
they are made sharers in industrial capital; but they will benefit from
these improvements, though in less measure, even as pure wage-labourers.
Their unions will be on the watch to prevent the whole advantage of the
improvement from going towards a reduction of the price of the commodity
they produce, and such reduction in the price of the commodity as
actually takes place will enable its consumers to spend so much the more
of their means on commodities made by other labourers, and to that
extent to increase the demand for the labour of the latter. But the
field from which I expect the most direct and extensive harvest to the
working class is the development of their own personal efficiency. At
present neither employers nor labourers seem fully alive to the
resources which this field is capable of yielding, if it were wisely and
fairly cultivated. Both classes are often so bent on immediate advantage
that they lose sight of their real and enduring interest. It is doubtful
whether employers are more slow to see how much inadequate remuneration
and uncomfortable circumstances impair efficiency and retard production,
or labourers to perceive how much limiting the general rate of
production tends to reduce the general rate of wages. In labour
requiring mainly physical strength, contractors sufficiently appreciate
the fact that their navvies must be well fed if they are to stand to
their work, and that an extra shilling a day makes a material difference
in the output. But in all forms of skilled labour, likewise, analogous
conditions prevail. Just as slave-labour is inefficient because it is
reluctantly given, and is wanting in the versatility and resourcefulness
that comes from general intelligence, so is free labour less efficient
or more efficient in exact proportion to its fertility of resource and
to the hopefulness and cheerfulness with which it is exerted; and both
conditions are developed in the working class in precise ratio with
their general comfort. The intelligent workman takes less time to learn
his trade, needs less superintendence at his work, and is less wasteful
of materials; and the cheerful workman, besides these merits, expends
more energy with less exhaustion. But men can have no hope in their work
while they live purely from hand to mouth, and you cannot spread habits
of intelligence among the labouring class, if their means are too poor
or their leisure too short to enable them to participate in the culture
that is going on around them.

But if employers are apt to take too narrow a view of the worth of good
wages as a positive source of high production, labourers are apt to take
equally narrow views of the worth of high production as a source of good
wages. The policy of limiting production is expressly countenanced by a
few of their trade unions, with the concurrence, I fear, of a
considerable body of working-class opinion. This is shown in their idea
of "making work," in their prohibition of "chasing"--_i.e._, of a
workman exceeding a given average standard of production--and in their
prejudice against piecework. Their notion of making work is irrational.
They think they can make work by simply not doing it, by spinning it
out, by going half speed, under the impression that they are in this way
leaving the more over to constitute a demand for their labour to-morrow.
And so, in the immediate case in hand and for the particular time, it
may sometimes be. But if this practice were to be turned into a law
universal among working men, if all labourers were to act upon it
everywhere, then the general production of the country would be
immediately reduced, and the general demand for labour, and the rate of
wages, would inevitably fall in a corresponding degree. Instead of
making work, they would have unmade half the work there used to be, and
have brought their whole class to comparative poverty by contracting the
ultimate sources from which wages come. The true way to make work for
to-morrow is to do as much as one can to-day. For the produce of one
man's labour is the demand for the produce of another man's. There is
nothing more difficult for any class than to reach an enlightened
perception of its own general interest.

The objection usually made to "chasing" and piecework is that they
always end in enabling employers to extract more work out of the men
without giving them any more pay, and that they conduce to
overstraining. Now piecework, without a fixed list of prices, is of
course liable to the abuse which, it is alleged, masters have made of
it. But with a fixed list of prices the labourers ought, with the aid of
their unions, to be as able to hold their own against the encroachments
of the masters under piecework as under day work, and piecework is so
decidedly advantageous, both to masters and to men, that it would be
foolish for the former to refuse the reasonable concession of a fixed
list of prices; and it would be equally foolish for the latter to oppose
the system under the delusive fear of a danger which it is amply in
their own power to meet. There is a good deal of force in the view of
Mr. William Denny, that piecework will prove the best and most natural
transition from the present system to a _régime_ of co-operative
production, because it furnishes many kinds of actual opportunities for
practising co-operation; but whatever may be the promise of piecework
for the age that is to come, there is no question about its promise for
the life that now is. Mr. Denny, speaking from experience in his own
extensive shipbuilding works at Dumbarton, says that "a workman under
piecework generally increases his output in the long run--partly by
working hard, but principally by exercising more intelligence and
arranging his work better--by about 75 per cent., while the total amount
of his wages increases by about 50 per cent., making a distinct saving
in the wages portion of the cost of a given article of about 14 per
cent." ("The Worth of Wages," p. 19.)[5] Similar testimony is given by
Goltz, Boehmert, and a writer in Engels' _Zeitschrift_ for 1868, as to
the effect of the introduction of piecework into continental industries,
and Roscher ascribes much of the industrial superiority of England to
the prevalence of piecework here. According to Mr. Howell, more than
seventy per cent. of the work of this country is done at present by the
piece, and the Trades' Union Commission found it the accepted rule in
the majority of the industries that came under their investigation; in
fact, in all except engineering, ironfounding, and some of the building
trades. The engineers entertain a strong objection to it, and their
union has sometimes expelled members who have persisted in taking it.
But the system works smoothly enough when an established price-list has
become a recognised practice of the trade. The objection that the piece
system leads to careless, scamped and inferior work, call hardly be
considered a genuine working-class objection. That is the look-out of
the masters, and they find it easier to check quality than to check
quantity. Another reason sometimes given against piecework is that under
it some men get more than their share in the common stock of work, but
there lurks in this reason the same fallacy which lies in the notion of
"making work," the fallacy of seeking to raise the level of wages by
limiting production, and so diminishing the common stock of work of
society. Labourers seem sometimes to harbour an impression as if they
were losing something when their neighbours were making more than
themselves. Work appears to them--no doubt in consequence of the
fluctuations and intermittent activity of modern trade--to come in
bursts and windfalls, nobody knows whence or how, and they are sometimes
uneasy to see the harvest being apparently disproportionately
appropriated by more active and efficient hands. But in the end, and as
a steady general rule, they are gainers and not losers by the efficiency
of the more expert workmen, because productivity, so far from drying up
the sources of work, is the very thing that sets them loose.

A more important objection is the danger of overstraining, against which
of course the working class are wise to exercise a most jealous
vigilance. But, in the first place, it is easy to exaggerate this
danger. It is not really from any deepened drain on the physical powers
of the workmen, so much as from a quickening of his mental life in his
work, that increase in his productivity is to be expected. Mr. Denny, it
will be observed, attributes the additional output under piecework not
nearly so much to harder labour as to the exercise of more intelligence
and to a better arrangement of the work. But, in the next place, to my
mind the great advantage of piecework is that it affords a sound
economic reason for shortening the day of labour. The work being
intenser, demands a shorter day, and being more productive, justifies
it. If the figures I have quoted from Mr. Denny are at all
representative, then a labourer, working by the piece, can turn out 40
per cent. more in eight hours than working by the day he can do in ten.
Differences may be expected to obtain in this respect in different
trades and kinds of work, so that there possibly cannot be any normal
day of labour for all trades alike, and each must adjust the term of its
labour to its own circumstances. But wherever piecework can increase the
rate of production to the extent mentioned by Mr. Denny, the day of
labour may be shortened with advantage, and it can apparently do so in
the very trades that most strongly object to it. A fact mentioned by Mr.
Nasmyth, in his remarkable evidence before the Trades Union Commission,
opens a striking view of the possibilities of increasing production
through developing the personal efficiency of the labouring class, and
of doing so without requiring any severe strain. "When I have been
watching men in my own work," he says, "I have noticed that at least
two-thirds of their time, even in the case of the most careful workmen,
is spent, not in work, but in criticising with the square or
straight-edge what they have been working, so as to say whether it is
right or wrong." And he adds--"I have observed that wherever you meet
with a dexterous workman, you will find that he is a man that need not
apply in one case in ten to his straight-edge or square." And why are
not all dexterous, or, at least, why are they not much more dexterous
than they now are? Mr. Nasmyth's answer is, because the faculty of
comparison by the eye is undeveloped in them, and he contends that this
faculty is capable of being educated in every one to a very much higher
degree than exists at present, and that its development ought to be made
a primary object of direct training at school. "If you get a boy," he
says, "to be able to lay a pea in the middle of two other peas, and in a
straight line with these two, that boy is a vast way on in the arts." He
has gone through a most valuable industrial apprenticeship before he has
entered a workshop at all. If, through training the eye, workmen can
save two-thirds of their time, it is manifest that there is abundant
scope for increasing productivity and shortening the day of labour at
the same time. Industrial efficiency is much more a thing of mind than
of muscle. _Jeder Arbeiter ist auch Kopfarbeiter._ All work is also
head work. Skill is but a primary labour-saving apparatus engrafted by
mind on eye and limb, and it is in developing the mental faculties of
the labourers by well-directed training, both general and technical,
that the chief conditions for their further improvement lie. Their
progress in intelligence may therefore be expected to increase their
productivity so as to justify a shortening of their day of labour, and
the leisure so acquired may be expected to be used so as to increase
their intelligence. Any advance men really make in the scale of moral
and mental being tends in this way to create the conditions necessary
for its maintenance.

We sometimes hear the same pessimist prophecy about shorter hours as we
have heard for centuries about better wages, that they will only seduce
the working class to increased dissipation. But experience is against
this view. Of course more leisure and more pay are merely means which
the labourer may according to his habits use for his destruction as
easily as for his salvation. But the increase in the number of
apprehensions for drunkenness that frequently accompanies a rise in
wages proves neither one thing nor another as to the general effect of
the rise on the whole class of labourers who have obtained it; it proves
only that the more dissipated among them are able to get oftener drunk.
Nor can the singular manifestations which the full hand sometimes takes
with the less instructed sections of the working class, especially when
it has been suddenly acquired, furnish any valid inference as to the way
it would be used by the working class in general, particularly if it
were their permanent possession. The evidence laid before the House of
Lords Committee on Intemperance shows that the skilled labourers of this
country are becoming less drunken as their wages and general position
are improving; and Porter, in his "Progress of the Nation," adduces some
striking cases of a steady rise of wages making a manifest change for
the better in the habits of unskilled labourers. He mentions, on the
authority of a gentleman who had the chief direction of the work, that
"the formation of a canal in the North of Ireland for some time afforded
steady employment to a portion of the peasantry, who before that time
were suffering all the evils so common in that country which result
from precariousness of employment. Such work as they could previously
get came at uncertain intervals, and was sought by so many competitors
that the remuneration was of the scantiest amount. In this condition the
men were improvident to recklessness. Their wages, insufficient for the
comfortable maintenance of their families, were wasted in procuring for
themselves a temporary forgetfulness of their misery at the whisky shop,
and the men appeared to be sunk into a state of hopeless degradation.
From the moment, however, that work was offered to them which was
constant in its nature and certain in its duration, and on which their
weekly earnings would be sufficient to provide for their comfortable
support, men who had been idle and dissolute were converted into sober,
hardworking labourers, and proved themselves kind and careful husbands
and fathers; and it is stated as a fact that, notwithstanding the
distribution of several hundred pounds weekly in wages, the whole of
which, would be considered as so much additional money placed in their
hands, the consumption of whisky was absolutely and permanently
diminished in the district. During the comparatively short period in
which the construction of this canal was in progress, some of the most
careful labourers--men who most probably before then never knew what it
was to possess five shillings at any one time--saved sufficient money to
enable them to emigrate to Canada, where they are now labouring in
independence for the improvement of their own land" (p. 451). It may be
difficult to extirpate drunkenness in our climate even with good wages,
but it is certainly impossible with bad, for bad wages mean insufficient
nourishment, comfortless house accommodation, and a want of that
elasticity after work which enables men to find pleasure in any other
form of enjoyment. As with better wages, so with shorter hours. The
leisure gained may be misused, especially at first; but it is
nevertheless a necessary lever for the social amelioration of the
labouring class, and it will more and more serve this purpose as it
becomes one of their permanent acquisitions. There can be no question
that long hours and hard work are powerful predisposing causes to
drunkenness. Studnitz mentions that several manufacturers in America had
informed him that they had invariably remarked, that with solitary
exceptions here and there, the men who wrought for the longest number of
hours were most prone to dissipation, and that the others were more
intelligent, and formed on the whole a better class. Part of the
prejudice entertained by working men against piecework comes from the
fact that it is very often accompanied with overtime, and when that is
the case, it generally exerts an unfavourable effect on the habits of
the workman. Mr. Applegarth said, in his evidence before the Trades
Union Commission, that nothing degraded the labourer like piecework and
overtime. Mr. George Potter stated, in his evidence before the Select
Committee on Masters and Operatives in 1860, that it was a common saying
among working people with regard to a man who works hard by piecework
and overtime, that such a man is generally a drunkard. He ascribed much
of the intemperance of the labouring class to the practice of working
"spells"--_i.e._, heats of work at high pressure on the piece and
overtime system--instead of steadily; and he says--"When I was at work
at the bench, I worked to a firm where there was much overtime and
piecework, and I found that the men at piecework were men who generally
spent five or six times more money in intoxicating drink, for the
purpose of keeping up their physical strength, than the men at day work.
I find, on close observation, that the men working at piecework are
generally a worse class of men in every way, both in intelligence and
education, and in pecuniary matters." Now, the ill effects which issue
from piecework combined with overtime could not accrue from piecework
combined with shorter hours. Besides, in a case of this kind it is
sometimes difficult to say which is cause and which effect, or how much
the one acts and reacts on the other. For both Mr. Potter and the
manufacturers mentioned by Studnitz represent the men who wrought
longest as being not only more drunken, but less intelligent and
educated, and, in fact, as being every way inferior; and we can easily
understand how men of unsteady habits should prefer to work "spells,"
and try to make up by excessive work three days in the week, for
excessive drinking the other three.

Dissipation and overtime generally go together, but neither of them is
a necessary accompaniment of piecework. The best check to both is
probably the spread of general education among the working class, for
the better educated workmen are even at present usually found against
them; and the spread of general education--I do not speak here of
technical--among the working class is more fruitful than even piecework
itself in opening up fresh reserves of industrial efficiency in our
labouring manhood. Roscher has pointed out how a stimulant like
piecework produces in a fairly well-educated district twice the result
it produces in a comparatively illiterate one. Taking the figures of
Goltz on rural labour in different German States, he shows that while
the earnings of pieceworkers were only 11 per cent. higher than the
earnings of day-workers in Osnabruck, they were as much as 23 per cent.
higher in Hesse. Mr. Peshine Smith mentions that the Board of Education
in Massachusetts procured from overseers of factories in that State a
return of the different amounts of wages paid and the degree of
education of those who received them. Most of the work was done by the
piece, and it was found that the wages earned rose in exact ratio with
the degree of education, from the foreigners at the bottom who made
their mark as the signature of their weekly receipts to the girls at the
top who did school in winter and worked in factories in summer. In some
branches of industry many new improvements remain unused because the
workpeople are too ignorant to work them properly. Moreover, for the
supreme quality of resourcefulness, education is like hands and feet,
and if we may judge from the number of useful labour-saving inventions
which working men give us even now, we cannot set limits to the number
they will give when the whole labouring class will have got the use of
their mind by an adequate measure of general education, and when, as we
may hope, they will have got leisure to use it in through a shortening
of the day of labour. The possibilities of this last source are very
well illustrated by an experiment of Messrs. Denny. In 1880 they
established in their ship-building yard at Dumbarton an award scheme for
recompensing inventions made by their workmen for improving existing
machinery or applying it to a new class of work, or introducing new
machinery in place of hand labour, or discovering any new method of
arranging or securing work that either improved its quality or
economized its cost. Mr. William Denny stated, after the scheme had been
nearly seven years in operation, that in that time as many as 196 awards
had been given for inventions which were thought useful to adopt, that
three times that number had been submitted for consideration, and that
besides being beneficial in causing so many useful improvements to be
made, the scheme had the effect of making the workmen of all departments
into active thinking and planning beings instead of mere flesh and blood

I cannot, therefore, take so dark a view as is sometimes entertained of
the futurity of the wage-labourer, even if he were compelled to remain
purely and permanently such. His position has substantially improved in
the past, and contains considerable capabilities for continued
improvement in the future. Of course the action of trade unions, besides
being confined to the limits I have described, is subject to the further
restriction, that it can only avail for the labourers who belong to
them, and is indeed founded on the exclusion or diminution of the
competition of others. They impose limitations on the number of
apprentices, and prescribe a certain standard of efficiency, loosely
ascertained, as a condition of membership. There can be no manner of
objection to the latter measure, nor does the former, though it is
manifestly liable to abuse and is sometimes vexatious in its operation,
seem to be practically worked so as to diminish the labour in any
particular industry beneath the due requirements of trade, or to create
an unhealthy monopoly. Then, though the trade unionists gather their
gains by keeping off the competition of others, it cannot be said that
these others are necessarily in any worse position than they would have
occupied if trade unions had never come into existence. It may even be
that through the operation of custom, which will always have an
influence in settling the price of labour, a certain benefit may be
reflected upon them from a rise in the usual price effected by trade
union agency. But in any case, it is no sound objection to an agency of
social amelioration that its efficiency is only partial, for it is not
so much to any single panacea, as to the application of a multitude of
partial remedies, that we can most wisely trust for the accomplishment
of our great aim.

II. The second main count in the socialist indictment of the present
industrial system is that it has multiplied the vicissitudes of trade,
and so imposed an incurable and distressing insecurity upon the
labourer's lot. The rapidity of technical transformation and the
frequency of commercial crises create, it is alleged, a perpetual
over-population, driving ever-increasing proportions of the labourers
out of active employment into what Marx calls the industrial reserve,
the hungry battalions of the half-employed or the altogether unemployed.
In regard to technical transformation, the effects of machinery on the
working class are now tolerably well understood. Individuals suffer in
the first instance, but the class, as a whole, is eventually a great
gainer. Machinery has always been the means of employing far more hands
than it superseded, when it did supersede any (for it has by no means
invariably done so). There is no way of "making work" like producing
wealth. The increased production due to machinery cheapens the
particular commodities produced by it, and thus enables the purchasers
of these commodities to spend more of their income on other things, and
so practically to make work for other labourers. But even in the trades
into which the machinery has been imported, the effect of its
introduction has been to multiply, instead of curtailing, employment.
Take the textile trades--much the most important of the machine
industries. Mr. Mulhall, in his "Dictionary of Statistics" (p. 338),
gives the following statistics of the textile operatives in the United
Kingdom at various dates:--

     Year.       Men.     Women.  Children.   Total.
     1835       82,000   167,000   104,000   353,000
     1850      158,000   329,000   109,000   596,000
     1880      232,000   543,000   201,000   976,000

Marx and others dwell much on the fact, that machinery leads frequently
to the substitution of female for male labour; but the preceding table
shows that while female labour has been largely multiplied, male labour
has been scarcely less so, and besides, a more extensive engagement of
women is in itself no public disadvantage. For half the question of our
pauperism is really the question of employment for women, it being so
much more difficult to find work for unemployed women than for
unemployed men; and if the course of industrial transformation opens up
new occupations that are suitable for them, it is so far entirely a
social gain, and no loss. No doubt, though the good accruing from
industrial transformation far outweighs the evil, yet evil does accrue
from it, and evil of the kind alleged, the tendency to develop local or
temporary redundancies of labour. But then that is an evil with which we
have never yet tried to cope, and it may probably be dealt with as
effectively on the present system as on any other. Socialism would stop
it by stopping the progress which it happens to accompany, and would
therefore envelop society in much more serious distress than it sought
to remove. In Marx's remarkable survey of English industrial history
almost every conquest of modern civilization is viewed with regret; but
it is manifestly idle to think of forcing society back now to a state in
which there should be no producing for profit, but only for private use,
no subdivision of labour, no machinery, no steam, for these are the very
means without which it would be impossible for our vastly increased
population to exist at all. What may be done to meet the redundancies of
labour that are always with us is a difficult but pressing question
which I cannot enter upon here. State provision of work--even in
producing commodities which are imported from abroad, and which might
therefore be produced in State workshops without hurting home
producers--has many drawbacks, but the problem is one that ought to be
faced, and something more must be provided for the case than workhouse
and prison.

In regard to commercial crises, they are rather lessening than
increasing. They may be more numerous, for trade is more extensive and
ramified, but they are manifestly less violent than they used to be. The
commercial and financial crises of the present century have been
moderate in their effects as compared with the Darien scheme, Law's
speculations in France, or the Tulip mania in the Low Countries, and
under the influence of the beneficial expansion of international
commerce and the equally beneficial principle of free trade, we enjoy
now an absolute immunity from the great periodical visitation of famine
which was so terrible a scourge to our ancestors. Facts like these are
particularly reassuring for this reason, that they are the result,
partly of better acquaintance with the principles of sound commercial
and financial success, and partly of the equalizing effect of
international ramifications of trade, and that these are causes from
which even greater things may be expected in the future, because they
are themselves progressive. There is no social system that can
absolutely abolish vicissitudes, because many of them depend on causes
over which man has no possible control, such as the harvests of the
world, and others on causes over which no single society of men has any
control, such as wars; and, besides, it is possible to do a great deal
more under the existing system than is at present done, to mitigate and
neutralize some of their worst effects. To provide the labouring
population with the security of existence, which is one of their
pressing needs, a sound system of working class insurance must be
devised, which shall indemnify them against all the accidents and
reverses of life, including temporary loss of work as well as sickness
and age, and it is not too much to hope, from the amount of attention
which the subject is at present attracting, that such a system will be
obtained. As far as yet appears, the scheme proposed by Professor Lujo
Brentano, to which I have already referred, is, on the whole, the
soundest and most satisfactory in its general principles that has been

Again, much of the instability of trade arises from the want of
commercial statistics, and the consequent ignorance and darkness in
which it must be conducted. More light would lessen at once the mistakes
of well-meaning manufacturers and the opportunities of illegitimate and
designing speculation. Socialists count all speculation illegitimate,
because they fail to see that speculation, conducted in good faith,
exercises a moderating influence upon the oscillations of prices,
preventing them from falling so low, or rising so high, as they would
otherwise do. Speculation has thus a legitimate and beneficial work to
perform in the industrial system, and if it performed its work rightly,
it ought to have the opposite effect from that ascribed to it by
socialists, and to conduce to the stability of trade, instead of shaking
it. But unhappily an unscrupulous and fraudulent spirit too often
presides over this work. Schaeffle, who is not only an eminent political
economist, but has been Minister of Commerce to one of the great powers
of Europe, says that when he got acquainted with the bourse, he gave up
believing any longer in the economic harmonies, and declared theft to be
the principle of modern European commerce. Socialists always take the
bourse to be the type of capitalistic society, and the fraudulent
speculator to be the type of the bourse, and however they may err in
this, there is one point at any rate which it is almost impossible for
them to exaggerate, and that is the mischief accruing to the whole
community--and, as is usual with all general evils, to the working class
more than any other--from the prevalence of unsound trading and inflated
speculation. Confidence is the very quick of modern trade. The least
vibration of distrust paralyzes some of its movements and depresses its
circulation. Enterprise in opening new investments is indeed more and
more indispensable to the vitality of modern industry, but the mischiefs
of misdirected enterprise are as great as the benefits of well-directed.
Illegitimate speculation is very difficult to deal with. It can never be
reached by a public opinion which worships success and bows to wealth
with questionless devotion. Nor is it practicable for the State to put
it down by direct measures. But the State may perhaps mitigate it
somewhat by helping to procure a good system of commercial statistics,
for unsound speculation thrives in ignorance, and may be to some extent
prevented by better knowledge. The socialist demand for commercial
statistics is therefore to be approved. They would benefit everybody but
the dishonest dealer. They would not only be a corrective against
unsound speculation, but they would tend to smooth the conflicts between
capital and labour about the rate of wages, and the working class in
America press the demand on the ground of their experience of the
benefits they have already derived from the Labour Statistical Bureaux
established in certain of the States there. Some of our own most weighty
economic authorities are strongly in favour of a measure of this kind.
Mr. Jevons, for example, says: "So essential is a knowledge of the real
state of supply and demand to the smooth procedure of trade, and the
real good of the community, that I conceive it would be quite legitimate
to compel the publication of requisite statistics. Secrecy can only
conduce to the profit of speculators who gain from great fluctuations of
prices. Speculation is advantageous to the public only so far as it
tends to equalize prices, and it is therefore against the public good to
allow speculators to foster artificially the inequalities of prices by
which they profit. The welfare of millions, both of consumers and
producers, depends on an accurate knowledge of the stocks of cattle and
corn, and it would therefore be no unwarrantable interference with the
liberty of the subject to require any information as to the stock in
hand. In Billingsgate fish-market it has been a regulation that salesmen
shall fix up in a conspicuous place every morning a statement of the
kind and amount of their stock; and such a regulation, whenever it could
be enforced on other markets, would always be to the advantage of every
one except a few traders." ("Theory of Political Economy," p. 88.)

III. The next principal charge brought by socialists against the present
order of things is that it commits a signal injustice against the
labouring class, by suffering the capitalists who employ them to
appropriate the whole increase of value which results from the process
of production, and which, as is alleged, is contributed entirely by the
labour of the artizans engaged in the process. I have already exposed
the fallacy of the theory of value on which this claim is founded, and I
need not repeat here what for convenience sake has been stated in
another place. (See chap. iii. pp. 160-6). Value is not constituted by
time of labour alone, except in the case of commodities admitting of
indefinite multiplication; it is constituted in all other cases by
social utility; and the importance of this distinction is especially
manifest in treating of the very point that comes before us here--the
value of labour. Why is one kind of labour paid dearer than another? Why
is an organizer of manual labour better paid than the manual labourer
himself? Why is the railway chairman better paid than the railway
porter? Or why has the judge a better salary than the policeman? Is it
because he exerts more labour, more socially necessary time of labour?
No; the porter works as long as the chairman, and the policeman as long
as the judge. Is it because more time of labour has been expended in the
preparation and apprenticeship of the higher paid functionaries? No;
because the railway chairman may have undergone no special training that
thousands of persons with much poorer incomes have not also undergone,
and the education of the judge cost no more than the education of other
barristers who do not earn a twentieth part of his salary. The
explanation of differences of remuneration like these is not to be found
in different quantities of labour, but in different qualities of labour.
One man's work is higher, rarer, more excellent, possesses, in short,
more social utility than another's, and for that reason is more
valuable, as value is at present constituted. It is thus manifest that
the theory which declares value to be nothing but quantity of labour,
nothing but time of labour, is inconsistent with some of the most
obvious and important phenomena of the value of different kinds of
labour. Many forms of labour are much more remunerative than others,
nay, much more remunerative than many applications of capital, and the
difference of remuneration is in no way whatever connected with the
quantity of labour or the time of labour undergone in earning it.
Socialists may perhaps answer that this _ought not_ to be so; that if
things were as they should be, the railway chairman, the station-master,
the inspector, the guard, and the porter would be paid by the same
simple standard of the duration of their labour in the service of the
line--a standard which would probably reverse the present gradation of
their respective salaries; but if they make that answer, they change
their ground; they no longer base their claim for justice to the
labourer on value _as it is constituted_, but on value _as they think it
ought to be constituted_. Their theory of value would in that case not
be what it pretends to be, a scientific theory of the actual
constitution of value, but a utopian theory of its proper and just
constitution. It would be tantamount to saying, Every man, according to
our ideas of of justice, ought to be paid according to the value of his
work, and the value of his work, according to our ideas of justice,
ought to be measured by the time--the socially necessary time--it
occupied. But this whole argument is manifestly based on nothing better
than their own arbitrary conceptions of justice, and it needs no great
perspicacity to perceive that these conceptions of justice are entirely
wrong. In fact, the common sense of men everywhere would unhesitatingly
pronounce it unjust to requite the manager who contrives, organizes,
directs, with only the same salary as the labourer who executes under
his direction, because, while both may spend the same time of labour,
the service rendered by the one is much more _valuable_ than the service
rendered by the other. Let every man have according to his work, if you
will; but then, in measuring work, the true standard of its value is not
its duration but its social utility, the social importance of the
service it is calculated to render.

This criterion of social utility is the principle that ought to guide us
in answering the question that is really raised by the particular
socialist charge now under consideration, the question of the justice of
interest on capital. Interest is just because capital is socially
useful, and because the owner of capital, in applying it to productive
purposes, renders a service to society which is valuable in the measure
of its social utility. Of course the State might perform this service
itself. It might compulsorily abstract from the produce of each year a
sufficient portion to constitute the raw materials and instruments of
future production; but, as a matter of fact, the State does not do so.
It leaves the service to be rendered spontaneously by private persons
out of their private means. The service rendered by these persons to
production is as indispensable as the service rendered by the labourers,
and the justice of interest stands on exactly the same ground as the
justice of wages. The labourer cannot produce by labour alone, without
materials and implements, any more than the capitalist can produce by
materials and implements alone, without labour; and the possessor of
capital needs a reward to induce him to advance materials and implements
just as much as the labourer needs a reward to induce him to labour.
Nobody will set aside a portion of his property to provide for future
production if he is to reap no advantage from doing so, and if the
produce will be distributed in exactly the same way whether he sets it
apart or not. It would be as unjust as it would be suicidal to withhold
the recompense to which this service is entitled, and without which
nobody would do it.

The real question for socialists to answer is, not whether it is just to
pay private capitalists for the service society accepts at their hands,
but whether society can perform this service better, or more
economically, without them; whether, in short, the abolition of interest
would conduce to any real saving in the end? This practical question,
crucial though it be, is one, however, to which they seldom address
themselves--they prefer expatiating in cloudier regions. The question
may not, with our present experience, admit of a definitive and
authoritative answer; but the probabilities all point to the conclusion
that capitalistic management of production, costly as it may seem to be,
is really cheaper than that by which socialism would supersede it.
Capitalistic management is proverbially unrivalled for two qualities in
which bureaucratic management is as proverbially deficient--economy and
enterprise. Socialists complain much of the hosts of middlemen who are
nourished on the present system, the heartless parasites who eat the
bread of society without doing a hand's turn of real good; but their own
plan would multiply vastly the number of unnecessary intermediaries
depending on industry. Under the _régime_ of the capitalist there are,
we may feel sure, no useless clerks or overseers, for he has the
strongest personal interest in working his business as economically as
possible. But with the socialist mandarinate, the interest lies the
other way, and the tendency of the head officials would be to multiply
their subordinates and assistants, so that by abolishing the capitalist,
society would not by any means have got rid of middlemen and parasites.
There would be as much waste of labour as before. Lord Brassey is
certainly right in attributing the industrial superiority of Great
Britain as much to the administrative skill and economy of her employers
as to the efficiency of her labourers. Individual capitalists are more
enterprising, as well as more economical managers, than boards. Their
keenly interested eyes and ears are ever on the watch for opportunities,
for improvements, for new openings; and having to consult nothing but
their own judgment, they are much quicker in adapting themselves to
situations and taking advantage of turns of trade. They will undertake
risks that a board would not agree to, and they will have entered the
field and established a footing long before a manager can get his
directors to stir a finger. Now this habit of being always on the alert
for new extensions, and new processes, and new investments, is of the
utmost value to a progressive community, and it cannot be found to such
purpose anywhere as with the capitalistic despot the socialists
denounce, whose zeal and judgment are alike sharpened by his hope of
personal gain and risk of personal loss. Studnitz informs us that in
1878 he found the mills of New York standing idle, but those of
Philadelphia all going, and his explanation is that the former were
under joint-stock management and the latter belonged to private owners.
The present tendency towards a multiplication of joint-stock companies
is a perfectly good one, because, for one thing, it helps to a better
distribution of wealth; but society would suffer if this tendency were
to be carried so far as to supersede independent private enterprise
altogether, and if joint-stock companies were to become the only form of
conducting business. And if private enterprise is more advantageous than
joint-stock management, because it has more initiative and adaptability,
so joint-stock management is for the same reason more advantageous than
the official centralized management of all industry.[6]

If there is any force in these considerations, it seems likely that we
should make a bad bargain, if we dismissed our capitalists and private
employers, in the expectation that we could do the work more cheaply by
our own public administration. And the mistake would be especially
disappointing for this reason, that in the ordinary progress of society
in wealth and security the rate of interest always tends to fall, and
that various forces are already in operation that may not unreasonably
be expected to reduce the rate of profits as well. Profits, as
distinguished from interest, are the earnings of management, and the
minimum which employers will be content to take is at present largely
determined by the entirely wrong principle that their amount ought to
bear a direct proportion to the amount of capital invested in the
business. In spite of competition, customary standards of this kind are
very influential in the adjustment of such matters; they are the usual
criteria of what are called fair profits and fair wages; they always
carry with them strong persuasives to acquiescence; and then, from their
very nature, they are very dependent on public opinion. I am not
sanguine enough to believe with the American economist, President F. A.
Walker, that employers will ever come to be content with no other reward
than the gratification of power in the management of a great industrial
undertaking; but there is nothing extravagant in expecting that, through
the influence of public opinion and the constant pressure of trade
unions, a fairer standard of profits may be generally adopted, with the
natural consequence of allowing a rise of wages.

But whether these expectations are well grounded or no, one thing is
plain,--the only thing really material to the precise issue at present
before us,--and that is, that while interest and profits may be both
unfair in amount, just as rent may be, or wages, or judicial penalties,
neither of them is unjust in essence, because they are merely particular
forms of remunerating particular services, which are now actually
performed by the persons who receive the remuneration, and which, under
the socialist scheme, would have to be performed--and in all probability
neither so well nor so cheaply--by salaried functionaries.

With these remarks, we may dismiss the specific charge of injustice
brought by socialists against the present order of things, and the
specific claim of right for the labouring class which they prefer. Let
us now submit their proposals to a more practical and decisive
test--will they or will they not realize the legitimate aspirations, the
ideal of the working class? Does socialism offer a better guarantee for
the realization of that ideal than the existing economy? I believe it
does not. What is the ideal of the working class? It may be said to be
that they shall share _pari passu_ in the progressive conquests of
civilization, and grow in comfort and refinement of life as other
classes of the community have done. Now this involves two things--first,
progress; second, diffusion of progress; and socialism is so intent on
the second that it fails to see how completely it would cut the springs
of the first. Some of its adherents do assert that production would be
increased and progress accelerated under a socialistic economy, but they
offer nothing in support of the assertion, and certainly our past
experience of human nature would lead us to expect precisely the
opposite result. The incentives and energy of production would be
relaxed. I have already spoken of the loss that would probably be
sustained in exchanging the interested zeal and keen eye of the
responsible capitalist employer for the perfunctory administration of a
State officer. A like loss would be suffered from lightening the
responsibility of the labourers and lessening their power of
acquisition. Under a socialist _régime_ they cannot by any merit acquire
more property than they enjoy in daily use, and they cannot by any fault
fail to possess that. Now socialist labourers are not supposed, any more
than socialist officials, to be angels from heaven; they are to carry on
the work of society with the ordinary human nature which we at present
possess; and in circumstances like those just described, unstirred
either by hope or fear, our ordinary human nature would undoubtedly take
its ease and bask contentedly in the kind providence of the State which
relieved it of all necessity for taking thought or pains. The inevitable
result would be a great diminution of production, which, with a rapidly
increasing population (and socialism generally scouts the idea of
restraining it), would soon prove seriously embarrassing, and could only
be obviated by a resort to the lash; in a word, by a return to
industrial slavery. Now, with a lessening production, progress is
clearly impossible, and the more evenly the produce was distributed, the
more certain would be the general decline.

Socialists ignore the civilizing value of private property and
inheritance, because they think of property only as a means of immediate
enjoyment, and not as a means of progress and moral development. They
would allow private property only in what is sometimes termed consumers'
wealth. You might still own your clothes, or even purchase your house
and garden. But producers' wealth, they hold, should be common property,
and neither be owned nor inherited by individuals. If this theory were
to be enforced, it would be fatal to progress. Private property has all
along been a great factor in civilization, but the private property that
has been so has been much more producers' than consumers'. Consumers'
wealth is a limited instrument of enjoyment; producers' is a power of
immense capability in the hands of the competent. Socialists are really
more individualistic than their opponents in the view they take of the
function of property. They look upon it purely as a means for gratifying
the desires of individuals, and ignore the immense social value it
possesses as a nurse of the industrial virtues and an agency in the
progressive development of society from generation to generation.

There is still another and even more important spring of progress that
would be stifled by socialism--freedom. Freedom is, of course, a direct
and integral element in any worthy human ideal, for it is an
indispensable condition for individual development, but here it comes
into consideration as an equally indispensable condition of social
progress. Political philosophers, like W. von Humboldt and J. S. Mill,
who have pled strongly for the widest possible extension of individual
freedom, have made their plea in the interests of society itself. They
looked on individuality as the living seed of progress; without
individuality no variation of type or differentiation of function would
be possible; and without freedom there could be no individuality. Under
a _régime_ of socialism freedom would be choked. Take, for example, a
point of great importance both for personal and for social development,
the choice of occupations. Socialism promises a free choice of
occupations; but that is vain, for the relative numbers that are now
required in any particular occupation are necessarily determined by the
demands of consumers for the particular commodity the occupation in
question sets itself to supply. Freedom of choice is, therefore, limited
at present by natural conditions, which cause no murmuring; but these
natural conditions would still exist under the socialist _régime_, and
yet they would perforce appear in the guise of legal and artificial
restrictions. It would be the choice of the State that would determine
who should enter the more desirable occupations, and not the choice of
the individuals themselves. The accepted would seem favourites; the
rejected would complain of tyranny and wrong. Selection could not be
made by competitive examination without treason against the principles
of a socialist state, nor by lot without a sacrifice of efficiency. The
same difficulties would attend the distribution of the fertile and the
poor soils. Even consumption would not escape State inquisition and
guidance, for an economy that pretended to do away with commercial
vicissitudes must take care that a change of fashion does not extinguish
a particular industry by superseding the articles it produces. Socialism
would introduce, indeed, the most vexatious and all-encompassing
absolutist government ever invented. It would impose on its central
executive functions that would require omniscience for their discharge,
and an authority so excessive that E. von Hartmann is probably right in
thinking that obedience could only be secured by fabricating for it the
illusion of a Divine origin and reinforcing loyalty by superstition. The
extensive centralized authority given to government in France has
undoubtedly been one of the main causes of the instability of the
political system of that State, and a socialist rule, with its vastly
greater prerogatives, could only maintain its ascendancy by being
fabulously hedged with the divinity of a Grand Lama. A military
despotism would be at least more consistent with modern conditions; but
a military despotism socialists abjure, and yet believe that they can
exact from free and equal citizens an almost animal submission to an
authority they elect themselves.

Progress is only possible on the basis of industrial freedom and private
property; and in the socialist controversy there is no question about
the necessity of progress. That is an assumption common to both sides;
socialists of the present day acknowledge it as implicitly as the
general opinion of the time. They are no sharers in Mill's admiration
for the stationary state; they utterly ridicule his Malthusian horror of
a progressive population; and, profoundly impressed as they are with
the vital need for a better distribution of wealth, they hesitate to
sacrifice for it an increasing production. On the contrary, they claim
for their system that it would stimulate progress, as well as spread its
blessings, better than the system that exists, and Lassalle at all
events frankly declared that unless socialism increased production, it
would not be economically justifiable. But tried by this test, we have
seen reason to find it wanting. The problem to which it addresses
itself, the institution of a sound and healthy distribution of wealth,
is probably the greatest social problem of the time; but socialism fails
to solve it, because no distribution can be sound and healthy which
destroys the conditions of further progress. The true solution must
adhere to the lines of the present industrial system, the lines of
industrial freedom and private property.

It is one thing, however, to say that the principles of industrial
freedom and private property are essential to a healthy distribution,
and it is quite another thing to hold that the distribution is then
healthiest and most perfect when these principles enjoy the most
absolute and unconditional operation. If socialism errs by suppressing
them, _laissez-faire_ runs into the opposite error of giving them
unlimited authority. _Laissez-faire_ is perhaps hardly any longer a
living faith. But even when men still believed in the economic
harmonies, they always taught that the best and justest distribution of
wealth was that which issued out of the free competition of individuals,
and that if this distribution ever turned out to be really faulty or
partial, it was only because the competition was not free or perfect
enough; because some of the competitors were not sufficiently
enlightened as compared with others, or not sufficiently mobile with
their labour or capital; in other words, because the competition was not
conducted on equal terms. This theory manifestly makes the justice of
the distribution effected by free competition to depend on the false
assumption of the natural equality of the competitors, and therefore as
manifestly implies that unless men are equal in talents and
opportunities, the system of unlimited freedom may produce a
distribution that is seriously unjust. _Laissez-faire_ thus had a germ
of socialism in its being, and even when its ascendancy seemed to be
highest, it was already being practically replaced by a larger and more
energetic theory of social politics which imposed on the State the duty
of correcting many of the evils of the present distribution of wealth,
and promoting, if not equality of all conditions, yet certainly
amelioration of the inferior conditions. Instead of maintaining equal
freedom for weak and strong, the State was to take the part of the weak
against the strong, in order to secure to all citizens a real
participation in progressive civilization. It is said truly enough that
the effect of such interferences is not to destroy liberty, but to
fulfil it, because, apart from them, the labour contract is no more a
free contract for labourers living from hand to mouth than the
capitulation of a beleaguered garrison when their provisions have run
down is a free capitulation, and the legal intervention is necessary in
order to make the men first really free. Legal freedom is no more an end
in itself than legal intervention; both are merely means of giving men
real freedom and enabling them effectually to work out their complete
and normal vocation as human beings. I shall treat more fully of the
true theory of social politics in a subsequent chapter on State
Socialism; but here, in connection with its relation to industrial
freedom, it will be enough to say that the restraints it proposes are
neither meant nor calculated to impair real freedom, and that it is
separated from socialism by its constant care to develop rather than
supersede individual responsibility, to facilitate the spread of private
property rather than suppress it, and to remove obstacles that are
making men's own efforts a nullity rather than to substitute for those
efforts the providence of the State.

If, then, there is any truth in these considerations--if the general
acquisition of private property, and not its universal abolition, is the
demand of the working-class ideal--then the business of social reform at
present ought to be to facilitate the acquisition of private property;
to multiply the opportunities of industrial investment open to the
labouring classes, and to devise means for credit, for saving, for
insurance, and the like. While, for reasons already explained, I have
been unable to agree with Mr. Cairnes' despondent view of the economic
position of the wage-paid labourers, I am entirely at one with him in
conceiving the surest means to their progressive amelioration to lie in
participation, by one means or another, in industrial capital. Much good
may be done by a wider extension of trade unions, and a better
organization of working class insurance; but the labourers must not rest
content till they have found their way, under the new conditions of
modern trade, to become capitalists as well as labourers. Co-operative
production seems the most obvious solution of this problem; but it is a
mischievous, though a common mistake, to regard it as the only solution.
The fortunes of the working class are not all embarked in one bottom,
and their salvation may be expected to fulfil itself in many ways. I
cannot share in the lamentation sometimes made because some of the
earlier productive associations have departed from the strict and
original form of co-operation, under which all the shareholders in the
business were labourers and all the labourers shareholders. In the
present situation of affairs, variety of experiment is desirable, for
only out of many various experiments can we eventually discover which
are most suitable to the conditions and fittest to survive. Co-operative
production would perhaps have been further advanced to-day, if
co-operators had not been so faithful in their idolatry of their
original ideal, and had fostered instead of discouraging variations of
type, which may yet justify their superiority by persisting and
multiplying. As it is, co-operative production has not been such a
complete failure as it is sometimes represented; it can show at least a
few very signal tokens of success and great promise. It is often
declared to be inapplicable to the great industries, because they
require more capital and better management than co-operative working men
are usually able to furnish. But in the town and neighbourhood of Oldham
there are 100 co-operative spinning mills, with a capital of close on
£8,000,000. They are managed entirely by working men, their capital is
contributed in £5 shares by working men, and they have during the last
ten years paid dividends varying from 10 to 45 per cent. These are
joint-stock companies rather than co-operative societies in the stricter
sense; but they are joint-stock companies of working men, and they
furnish to working men in an effective and successful way that
participation in the industrial capital of the country which is really
what is wanted. The Oldham workman prefers to hold shares in a different
mill from that he works in, because he feels himself more free to
exercise his voice as a shareholder there, and he prefers to carry his
labour to the mill where he gets the best wages and the best treatment,
without being obliged to change his investment when he changes his
workshop. The advantage of the Oldham system over the stricter
co-operative type is therefore the old advantage of freedom. It suits
the English character better, and the only wonder is why it is still,
after more than sixteen years' successful experience, confined
exclusively to a single locality. It has been stated that there are a
thousand operatives working at these mills who are worth £1000 to £2000,
and besides the mills, there are co-operative stores, building
societies, and other working-class companies in Oldham, with a combined
capital of £3,500,000. In all these ways the zone of participators in
property broadens, and hope and stimulus are introduced into the
labourer's life. The truth seems to be that the great need of the
working man is not so much money to invest as opportunity and motive for
investment. The amount lodged in savings banks, the amount raised by
trade unions, the amount wasted in drink, the amount wasted in
inefficient household economy, which might be much lessened by better
instruction in the arts of cookery and household management--all show
that large numbers of the working class possess means at their disposal
to constitute at least the beginnings of their emancipation, if good
opportunities were open to them of using it advantageously in productive
enterprise. Co-operation and profit-sharing are not the only means by
which this might be realized. Private firms might initiate a practice of
reserving a certain amount of their capital to constitute a kind of
stock for their workmen to invest their savings in, under--if that were
legalized--limited liability. One advantage of this plan over the
ordinary industrial partnership would be, that while, like it, it would
enhance the workmen's zeal in their work, it could not possibly have the
effect of reducing wages, because the stock would be a free investment,
and would probably not be taken up by all or by more than a majority of
the workmen. Again, with a reform of our land laws, small investments in
land will certainly be facilitated, especially among the agricultural

Socialists would no doubt condemn all such investments for the same
reason as they generally condemn the co-operative movement, because they
would tend to create "a new class with one foot in the camp of the
_bourgeoisie_ and the other in the camp of the proletariat." But that is
precisely one of their chief advantages, and in making this objection
socialists only betray how completely they ignore the operation of those
portions of human nature that are the real forces and factors of social
progress. It is only by linking a lower class to a higher that you can
raise the level of the whole, and every pathway the working class makes
into a comfortable equality with the lower _bourgeoisie_ will constitute
at once an opportunity and a spur for others to follow them, which will
exercise an elevating effect upon the entire body. If it were generally
open to all the labouring classes to begin by being wage-labourers and
end by sharing in some degree in the industrial capital of the country,
this would raise the level of the whole--of those who after all remained
wage-labourers still, as well as of those who succeeded in gaining a
better competency. It would give them all something to keep looking
forward to during their working life, something to save for and strive
after, and a higher standard of comfort would get diffused and
considered necessary in the class generally through the example of the
better off. For the more comfortably situated working men--whether they
have won their comfort by co-operation or otherwise--have not passed out
of their class. They have, as is alleged, one foot in the camp of the
proletariat still. They live and move and have their being among working
people, and constitute by their presence and social connections a
stimulating and elevating agency. It is through connections like these
that the ideas of comfort and culture that prevail among an upper class
permeate through to a lower, and thus elevate the general standard of
living upon which the level of wages so much depends. Even the minor
inequalities in the ranks of the working class are not without their use
in quickening their exertions to maintain the standard of respectability
which they have won or inherited. Economists were not wrong in ascribing
so much influence as they always have done to men's tenacity in adhering
to their customary standard of life. Many striking illustrations of its
beneficial operation might be mentioned. I select one, because it
concerns an aspect of the condition of the labouring classes of this
country that is at present attracting much attention--their house
accommodation. In all our large cities, the house accommodation of the
working class has hitherto been about as bad as bad could be, but there
is one singular exception--it is Sheffield. Porter drew attention to the
fact many years ago. "The town itself," he says, "is ill built and dirty
beyond the usual condition of English towns, but it is the custom for
each family among the labouring population to occupy a separate
dwelling, the rooms of which are furnished in a very comfortable manner.
The floors are carpeted, and the tables are usually of mahogany. Chests
of drawers of the same material are commonly seen, and so in many cases
is a clock also, the possession of which article of furniture has often
been pointed out as the certain indication of prosperity and of personal
responsibility on the part of the working man." ("Progress of the
Nation," p. 523.) The same condition of things still prevails, for at
the meeting of the British Association in Sheffield in 1879 Dr. Hime
read a paper on the vital statistics of the town, in which he
says:--"Although handsome public buildings are not a prominent feature
in the town, still there are few towns in England where the great bulk
of the population is so well provided for in the way of domestic
architecture. Overcrowding is very rare; cellar dwellings are unknown;
and almost every family has an entire house, a most important agent in
securing physical as well as moral health." (Transactions of British
Association, 1879.) Now this is a fact of the highest interest, and we
naturally ask what peculiarity there is in the trade or circumstances of
Sheffield, in the first place, to create such an exceptional excellence
in the standard of working class house accommodation, and, in the next
place, to maintain it. One thing is certain: it is not due to better
wages. There are trades in Sheffield very highly paid, but the labourers
belonging to them are described by the anonymous author of "An Inquiry
into the Moral, Social, and Intellectual Condition of the Industrious
Classes of Sheffield" (London, 1839), as being much less comfortable in
their circumstances than the others. This writer speaks of some trades
in which "the workmen are steady, intelligent, and orderly, seldom the
recipients of charity or parochial relief. They depend on their own
exertions for the respectable maintenance of their families, and when
trade is depressed they strive to live on diminished wages, or fall back
on resources secured by industry and economy. This healthy and vigorous
condition is not attributable to high wages. The workmen in the
edge-tool trade are extravagantly remunerated, and yet, as a body, they
are perhaps as irregular and dissipated in their habits as any in the
town. Their families, in time of good trade, feel few of the advantages
of prosperity, and when labour is little in demand, they are the first
to need the aid of charity. These differences are familiar to the most
superficial observer of the social and moral condition of the workmen in
the several branches" (p. 14). But the same writer mentions a
peculiarity in the trade of Sheffield which, he says, marks it off from
every other manufacturing town, and that peculiarity may serve to
provide us with the explanation we are seeking. "With us," he says, "the
distinctions between masters and men are not always well marked. Persons
are to a great extent both. The transition from the one to the other is
easy and frequent in those branches where the tools are few and simple,
and the capital required extremely small, which applies to the whole of
the cutlery department." "The facility with which men become masters
causes extraordinary competition, and its inevitable result,
insufficient remuneration." "Here merchants and manufacturers cannot
become princes.... There is not sufficient play for large fortunes. The
making of fortunes is with us a slow process. It is, however, far from
being partial.... The longer period required in the making of them
allows the mind time to adapt itself to its improved circumstances, not
merely the speculative and money-getting part of the understanding, but
the whole of its social, moral, and intellectual powers, without which
means are a questionable good. Wealth and intelligence are accordingly
with us more generally associated than in towns where immense fortunes
are rapidly made. In the latter case, there is no time for adaptation,
nor is it deemed necessary or at all important, where money is the
measure by which all things are estimated. Another evil dependent on
this sudden elevation in life is the great distance which is immediately
placed between employer and employed" (p. 15). Class and class are thus
better knit together in Sheffield than elsewhere. The exceptional
facility of becoming masters seems to be the particular instrumentality
which has brought down the ideas and habits of comfort of the
_bourgeoisie_ and spread them among the working class, and which has
always prevented the great mass of the latter from sinking contentedly
into a lower general standard of life. It introduced among them that
social ambition, which is the most effective spur to progress, and the
best preservative against decline. The fact that the exceptionally good
house accommodation which prevails among the labouring population of
Sheffield is not owing to exceptional, or even at all superior, wages,
is one of much hope and encouragement. What is possible in Sheffield
cannot be impossible elsewhere; and what is possible in the matter of
house accommodation cannot be hopeless in other branches of consumption.

I shall be told that in all this I am only repeating the foolish idea of
the French princess, who heard the people complain they could not get
bread, and asked why then they did not buy cake. Where combinations are
possible, it will be said, investments may be also possible; but the
great majority of the working class are not in a position to combine,
and it is mere mockery to tell people to save and invest who can hardly
contrive to cover their backs. To this I reply, that there is no reason
to assume that trade unions have reached the utmost extension of which
they are susceptible, or to despair of their introduction into the
hitherto unorganized trades. It was only lately common to deny the
possibility of combination among agricultural labourers, and yet,
scattered as they are, they have shown themselves not only able to
combine, but to raise wages effectively by means of their combinations.
We have now very powerful unions of unskilled day labourers, and a
beginning has been made of an efficient organization even among
needlewomen. It is true that, even when organization has spoken its last
word, much of the distressing poverty that now exists would probably
still remain, because we must not disguise from ourselves the fact that
much of that poverty is the direct fruit of vice, disease, or indolence.
But socialism could not cope with this mass of misery any better than
the present system, for men don't drink and loaf and enter into
improvident marriages or illicit alliances because they happen to be
paid for their labour by contract with a capitalist instead of valuation
by a State officer, and they certainly would not cease doing any of
these things because an indulgent State undertook to save them from the
natural penalties of doing them.


[4] The proportion in England for 1857, according to official figures,
was 3½ times the number for one day, but whether that proportion
continues still we have no means of knowing.

[5] Mr. Denny was led by subsequent experience to a much less favourable
view of the efficacy of piecework as an instrument of working-class
progress. He wrote me in June, 1886 (ten years after the publication of
the pamphlet I have quoted above) an interesting and valuable letter on
this subject, which is published in full in Dr. Bruce's biography of him
("Life of William Denny," p. 113). A larger experience of piecework, he
said, had convinced him that, excepting in cases where rates can be
fixed and made a matter of agreement between the whole body of the men
in any works and their employers, piecework prices have not a
self-regulating power, and are liable, under the pressure of
competition, to be depressed below what he would consider a proper
level. And this was chiefly, if not, indeed, exclusively, the case with
those lump jobs which were undertaken by little copartneries of workmen,
and afforded the occasions for practising co-operation from which he had
drawn the hopes I have mentioned above. He came to see that in all kinds
of work for which it was difficult to fix regular rates, the beneficial
operation of payment by the piece on wages was much more uncertain than
he previously supposed, except in the hands of a good master, who was
not an absentee. But for ordinary work, I think he still adhered to his
favourable opinion of the effect of the piece system in increasing the
worker's earnings. He said he had nothing to modify about the figures
adduced in his pamphlet, and I understood him to continue to count them
representative of the general operation of pieceworking.

[6] More will be found on this subject in the chapter on "State
Socialism," under the sub-heading "State Socialism and State



I. _State Socialism and English Economics._

State socialism has been described by M. Léon Say as a German philosophy
which was natural enough to a people with the political history and
habits of the Germans, but which, in his opinion, was ill calculated to
cross the French frontier, and was contrary to the very nature of the
Anglo-Saxons. Sovereign and trader may be incompatible occupations, as
Adam Smith asserts, but in Germany, at least, they have never seemed so.
There, Governments have always been accustomed to enter very
considerably into trade and manufactures, partly to provide the public
revenue, partly to supply deficiencies of private enterprise, and
partly, within more recent times, for reasons of a so-called "strategic"
order, connected with the defence or consolidation of the new Empire.
The German States possess, every one of them, more Crown lands and
forests, in proportion to their size, than any other countries in
Europe, some of them, indeed, being able to meet half their public
expenditure from this source alone; and besides their territorial
domain, most of them have an even more extensive industrial domain of
State mines, or State breweries, or State banks, or State foundries, or
State potteries, or State railways, and their rulers are still
projecting fresh conquests in the same direction by means of brandy and
tobacco monopolies. But in England things stand far otherwise. She has
sold off most of her Crown lands, and is slowly parting with, rather
than adding to, the remainder. She abolished State monopolies in the
days of the Stuarts, as instruments of political oppression, and she has
abandoned State bounties more recently as nurses of commercial
incompetency. She owes her whole industrial greatness, her
manufactures, her banks, her shipping, her railways, to some extent her
very colonial possessions, to the unassisted energy of her private
citizens. England has been reared on the principle of freedom, and could
never be brought, M. Say might not unreasonably conclude, to espouse the
opposite principle of State socialism, unless the national character
underwent a radical change. And yet, while he was still writing, he was
confounded to see signs, as he thought, of this alien philosophy
obtaining, not simply an asylum, but really an ascendancy in this
country. It appeared to M. Say to be striking every whit as strong a
root in our soil and climate as it had done in its native habitat, and
he is disposed to join in the alarm, then recently sounded at Edinburgh
by Mr. Goschen, that the soil and climate had changed, that the whole
policy, opinion, and feeling of the English people with respect to the
intervention of the public authority had undergone a revolution.

Mr. Goschen had, in raising the alarm, shown some perplexity how far to
condemn the change and how far to praise it, but he was quite clear upon
its reality, and was possessed by a most anxious sense of its magnitude
and gravity. "We cannot," said he, "see universal State action enthroned
as a principle of government without misgiving." Mr. Herbert Spencer
took up the cry with more vehemence, declaring that the age of British
freedom was gone, and warning us to prepare for "the coming slavery." M.
de Laveleye, who is unquestionably one of the most careful and competent
foreign observers of our affairs, followed Mr. Spencer, and although,
being himself a State socialist, he welcomed this alleged new era as
much as Mr. Spencer deprecated it, he gave substantially the same
description of the facts; he said, England, once so jealous for liberty,
was now running ahead of all other nations on the career of State
socialism. And that seems to have become an established impression both
at home and abroad. The French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences
has devoted several successive sittings to the subject; the eminent
German economist, Professor Nasse, has discussed it--and with much
excellent discrimination--in an article on the decline of economic
individualism in England; and it is now the current assumption of the
journals and of popular conversation in this country, that a profound
change has come over the spirit of English politics in the course of the
present generation--a change from the old trust in liberty to a new
trust in State regulation, and from the French doctrine of
_laissez-faire_ to the German doctrine of State socialism.

But this assumption, notwithstanding the currency it has obtained and
the distinguished authorities by whom it is supported, is in reality
exaggerated and undiscriminating. While marking the growing frequency of
Government interventions, it makes no attempt to distinguish between
interventions of one kind and interventions of another kind, and it
utterly fails to recognise that English opinion--whether exhibited in
legislative work or economic writings--was not dominated by the
principle of _laissez-faire_ in the past any more than in the present,
but that it really has all along obeyed a fairly well-defined positive
doctrine of social politics, which gave the State a considerable
concurrent _rôle_ in the social and industrial development of the
community. The increasing frequency of Government interventions is in
itself a simple and unavoidable concomitant of the growth of society.
With the rapid transformations of modern industrial life, the increase
and concentration of population, and the general spread of
enlightenment, we cannot expect to retain the political or legislative
inactivity of stationary ages. As Mr. Hearn remarks, "All the volumes of
the statutes, from their beginning under Henry III. to the close of the
reign of George II., do not equal the quantity of legislative work done
in a decade of any subsequent reign." ("Theory of Legal Duties and
Rights," p. 21.) The process has been continuous and progressive, and it
suffered no interruption in the period which is usually supposed to have
been peculiarly sacred to _laissez-faire_. On the contrary, that period
will be found to exceed the period that went before it in legislative
activity, exactly as it has in turn been itself exceeded by our own
time. On any theory of the State's functions, an increase in the number
of laws and regulations was inevitable; it was only part and portion of
the natural growth of things; but such an increase affords no evidence,
not even a presumption, of any change in the principles by which
legislation is governed, or in the purposes or functions for which the
power of the State is habitually invoked. A mere growth of work is not
a multiplication of functions; to get a result, we must first analyze
the work done and discriminate this from that.

Now, in the first place, when compared with other nations, England has
been doing singularly little in the direction--the distinctively
socialistic direction--of multiplying State industries and enlarging the
public property in the means of production. Municipalities, indeed, have
widened their industrial domain considerably; it has become common for
them to take into their own hands things like the gas and water supply
of the community which would in any case be monopolies, and their
management, being exposed to an extremely effective local opinion, is
generally very advantageous. But while local authorities have done so
much, the central Government has held back. Many new industries have
come into being during the present reign, but we have nationalized none
of them except the telegraphs. We have added to the Post-Office the
departments of the Savings Bank and the Parcels Post; we have, for
purely military reasons, extended our national dockyards and arms
factories since the Crimean war, but without thereby enhancing national
confidence in Government management; we have, for diplomatic purposes,
bought shares in the Suez Canal; we have undertaken a few small jobs of
testing and stamping, such as the branding of herrings; but we are now
the only European nation that has no State railway; we have refrained
from nationalizing the telephones, though legally entitled to do so; and
we very rarely give subventions to private enterprises. This is much
less the effect of deliberate political conviction than the natural
fruit of the character and circumstances of the people, of their
powerful private resources and those habits of commercial association
which M. Chevalier speaks of with so much friendly envy, complaining
that his own countrymen could never be a great industrial nation because
they had no taste for acquiring them. In the English colonies, where
capital is more scarce, Government is required to do very much more;
most of them have State railways, and some--New Zealand, for
instance--State insurance offices for fire and life. These colonial
experiments will have great weight with the English public in settling
the problem of Government management under a democracy, and if they
prove successful, will undoubtedly influence opinion at home to follow
their example; but as things are at present, there is no appearance of
any great body of English opinion moving in that direction.

But while England has lagged behind other nations in this particular
class of Government intervention, there is another class in which she
has undoubtedly run far before them all. If we have not been multiplying
State industries, we have been very active in extending and establishing
popular rights, by means of new laws, new administrative regulations, or
new systems of industrial police. In fact, the greater part of our
recent social legislation has been of this order, and it is of that
legislation M. de Laveleye is thinking when he says England is taking
the lead of the nations in the career of State socialism. But that is
nothing new; if we are in advance of other nations in establishing
popular rights to-day, we have been in advance of them in that work for
centuries already. That peculiarity also has its roots in our national
history and character, and is no upstart fashion of the hour. Now,
without raising the question whether the rights which our recent social
legislation has seen fit to establish, are in all cases and respects
rights that ought to have been established, it is sufficient for our
present purpose to observe that at least this is obviously a very
different class of intervention from the last, because if it does not
belong to, it is certainly closely allied with, those primary duties
which are everywhere included among the necessary functions of all
government, the protection of the citizen from force and fraud. To
protect a right, you must first establish it; you must first recognise
it, define its scope, and invest it with the sanction of authority. With
the progress of society fresh perils emerge and fresh protections must
be devised; the old legal right needs to be reconstructed to meet the
new situation, or a new right must be created hitherto unknown perhaps,
unless by analogy, to the law. But even here the novelty lies, not in
the principle--for all right is a protection of the weak, or ought to be
so--but in the situation alone; in the rise of the factory system, which
called for the Factory Acts; in the growth of large towns, which called
for Health and Dwellings Acts; in the extension of joint-stock
companies, which called for the Limited Liability Acts; in the monopoly
of railway transportation, which called for the regulation of rates; or
in the spread of scientific agriculture, which required the constitution
of a new sort of property, the property of a tenant-farmer in his own
unexhausted improvements.

This peculiarity of the industrial and social legislation of England has
not escaped the acute intelligence of Mr. Goschen. Mistrustful as he is
of Government intervention, Mr. Goschen observes with satisfaction that
the great majority of recent Government interventions in England have
been undertaken for moral rather than economic ends. After quoting Mr.
Thorold Rogers' remark, that these interventions generally had the good
economic aim of preventing the waste of national resources, he says:
"But I believe that certainly in the case of the Factory Acts, and to a
great extent in the case of the Education Acts, it was a moral rather
than an economic influence--the conscientious feeling of what was right
rather than the intellectual feeling of ultimate material gain--it was
the public imagination touched by obligations of our higher
nature--which supplied the tremendous motive-power for passing laws
which put the State and its inspectors in the place of father or mother
as guardians of a child's education, labour, and health." ("Addresses,"
p. 62.)

The State interfered not because the child had a certain capital value
as an instrument of future production which it would be imprudent to
lose, but because the child had certain rights--certain broad moral
claims--as a human being which the parents' natural authority must not
be suffered to violate or endanger, and which the State, as the supreme
protector of all rights, really lay under a simple moral obligation to
secure. Reforms of this character are naturally inspired by moral
influences, by sentiments of justice or of humanity, by a feeling that
wrong is being done to a class of the community who are placed in a
situation of comparative weakness, inasmuch as they are
deprived--whether through the force of circumstances or the selfish
neglect of their superiors--of what public opinion recognises to be
essential conditions of normal human existence. Now, most of the
legislation which has led Mr. Goschen to declare that universal State
action is now enthroned in England has belonged to this order. It has
been guided by ethical and not by economic considerations. It has been
employed mainly in readjusting rights, in establishing fresh securities
for just dealing and humane living; but it has been very chary of
following Continental countries in nationalizing industries. When
therefore Mr. Spencer tells M. de Laveleye that the reason why England
is extending the functions of her Government so much more than other
nations "is obviously because there is great scope for the further
extension of them here, while abroad there is little scope for the
further extension of them," his explanation is singularly inappropriate.
England has not been extending the functions of Government all round,
but she has moved in the direction where she had less scope to move, and
has stood still in the direction where she had more scope to move than
other countries. And it is important to keep this distinction in mind
when we hear it so often stated in too general terms that we have
discarded our old belief in individual liberty and set up "universal
State action" in its place.

But those who complain of England having broken off from her old
moorings, not only exaggerate her leanings to authority in the present,
but they also ignore her concessions to authority in the past. English
statesmen and economists have never entertained the rigid aversion to
Government interference that is vulgarly attributed to them, but with
all their profound belief in individual liberty they have always
reserved for the Government a concurrent sphere of social and economic
activity--what may even be designated a specific social and economic
mission. A few words may be usefully devoted to this English doctrine of
social politics here, not merely because they may serve to dispel a
prevailing error, but because they will furnish a good vantage-ground
for seizing and judging of a principle of government which is to-day in
every mouth, but unfortunately bears in every mouth a different
meaning--the principle of State socialism.

It is commonly believed that the English doctrine of social politics is
the doctrine of _laissez-faire_, and our economists are continually
reviled as if they sought to leave the world to the play of
self-interest and competition, unchecked by any ideas of social justice
or individual human right. But in truth the doctrine of _laissez-faire_
has never been held by any English thinker, unless, perhaps, Mr. Herbert
Spencer. Mr. Spencer's first work, "Social Statics," was an exposition
of the theory that the end of all government was the liberty of the
individual, the realization for every citizen of the greatest amount of
liberty it was possible for him to enjoy without interfering with the
corresponding claims of his fellow-citizens. The individual had only one
right--the right to equal freedom with everybody else, and the State had
only one duty--the duty of protecting that right against violence and
fraud. It could not stir beyond that task without treading on the right
of some one, and therefore it ought not to stir at all. It had nothing
to do with health, or religion, or morals, or education, or relief of
distress, or public convenience of any sort, except to leave them
sternly alone. It must, of course, renounce the thought of bounties and
protective duties, but it must also give up marking plate, minting coin,
and stamping butter; it must take no part in building harbours or
lighthouses or roads or canals; and even a town council cannot without
offence undertake to pave or clean or light the streets under its
jurisdiction. It is only fair to say that Mr. Spencer refuses to be
bound now by every detail of his youthful theory, but he has repeated
the substance of it in his recent work, "The Man _versus_ The State,"
which is written to prove that the only thing we want from the State is
protection, and that the protection we want most of late is protection
against our protector.

This theory is certainly about as extreme a development of individualism
as could well be entertained; and though it has been even distanced in
one or two points by Wilhelm von Humboldt--who objected, for example, to
marriage laws[7]--no important English writer has ventured near it. The
description of the State's business as the business of protecting the
citizens from force and fraud, has indeed been familiar in our
literature since the days of Locke, and isolated passages may be cited
from the works of various political thinkers, which, if taken by
themselves, would seem to deny to the State any right to act except for
purposes of self-protection. John Stuart Mill himself speaks sometimes
in that way, although we know, from the chapter he devotes to the
subject of Government interference in his "Principles of Political
Economy," that he really assigned to the State much wider functions.
When we examine the writings of English economists and statesmen, and
the principles they employ in the discussion of the social and
industrial questions of their time, it seems truly strange how they ever
came to be credited with any scruple on ground of principle to invoke
the power of the State for the solution of such questions when that
seemed to them likely to prove of effectual assistance.

The social doctrine which has prevailed in England for the last century
is "the simple and obvious system of natural liberty" taught by Adam
Smith; but the simple and obvious system of natural liberty is a very
different thing from the system of _laissez-faire_ with which it is so
commonly confounded. Its main principle, it is true, is this: "Every
man," says Smith, "as long as he does not violate the laws of justice,
is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to
bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any
other man or order of men. The Sovereign is completely discharged from a
duty, in the attempting to perform which he must always be exposed to
innumerable delusions, and for the proper performance of which no human
wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient: the duty of superintending
the industry of private people and of directing it towards the
employments most suitable to the interests of the society." ("Wealth of
Nations," book iv., chap. ix.) But while the Sovereign is discharged
from an industrial duty which he is incapable of performing
satisfactorily, he is far from being discharged from all industrial
responsibility whatsoever, for Smith immediately proceeds to map out the
limits of his functions as follows: "According to the system of natural
liberty, the Sovereign has only three duties to attend to--three duties
of great importance, indeed, but plain and intelligible to common
understandings: first, the duty of protecting the society from the
violence or invasion of other independent societies; second, the duty of
protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the
injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of
establishing an exact administration of justice; and thirdly, the duty
of erecting and maintaining certain works and certain public
institutions which it can never be for the interest of any individual or
small number of individuals to erect and maintain; because the profit
could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of
individuals, though it may frequently do much more than repay it to a
great society."

The State is required to protect us from other evils besides the evils
of force and fraud--infectious diseases, for example, are in the context
mentioned expressly--and to supply us with many other advantages besides
the advantage of protection. Some of these advantages are of a material
or economic order, and others of an intellectual or moral. The material
advantages consist for the most part of provisions for facilitating the
general commerce of the country--such things as roads, canals, harbours,
the post, the mint--or provisions for facilitating particular branches
of commerce; and among these he instances the incorporation of
joint-stock companies endowed by charter with exclusive trading
privileges; and the reason which, according to Smith, entitles the State
to intervene in this class of cases, and which at the same time
prescribes the length to which its intervention may legitimately go, is
that individuals are unable to do the work satisfactorily themselves, or
that the State has from its nature superior qualifications for the task.
The intellectual or moral advantages which Smith asks from the State are
mostly provisions for sustaining the national manhood and character,
such as a system of compulsory military training or a system of
compulsory--and if not gratuitous, still cheap--education; and it is
important to mark that he asks for these measures, not on the ground of
their political or military expediency, but on the broad ground that
cowardice and ignorance are in themselves public evils, from which the
State is as much bound, if it can, to save the people, as it is bound to
save them from violence or fraud. Of military training he observes: "To
prevent that sort of mental mutilation, deformity, and wretchedness
which cowardice necessarily involves in it from spreading themselves
through the great body of the people, would deserve the serious
attention of Government, in the same manner as it would deserve its most
serious attention to prevent a leprosy or any other loathsome and
offensive disease, though neither mortal nor dangerous, from spreading
itself among them, though perhaps no other public good might result from
such attention besides the prevention of so great a public evil."
("Wealth of Nations," book v., chap. i.) And he proceeds to speak of
education: "The same thing may be said of the gross ignorance and
stupidity which in a civilized society seems so frequently to benumb the
understanding of all the inferior ranks of people. A man without the
proper use of the intellectual faculties of a man is, if possible, more
contemptible than even a coward, and seems to be mutilated and deformed
in a still more essential part of the character of human nature. Though
the State was to derive no advantage from the instruction of the
inferior ranks of people, it would still deserve its attention that they
should not be altogether uninstructed." Compulsory military training and
a system of national education would no doubt be conducive to the
stricter ends of all government; the one would strengthen the defences
of the nation against foreign enemies and the other would tend to the
diminution of crime at home; but Smith, it will be seen, explicitly
refuses to take that ground. The State's duty in the case would be the
same, though no such results were to follow, for the State has other
duties to perform besides the maintenance of peace and the repression of
crime. It would probably be admitted, he thinks, that it was as
incumbent on the State to take steps to arrest the progress of a "mortal
and dangerous" disease as it was to stop a foreign invasion; but he goes
further, and contends that it was equally incumbent on the State to
arrest the progress of a merely "loathsome and offensive" disease, for
the simple reason that such a disease was a mutilation or deformity of
our physical manhood. And just as the State ought to prevent the
mutilation and deformity of our physical manhood, so the State ought to
prevent the mutilation and deformity of our moral and intellectual
manhood, and was bound accordingly to provide a system of military
training and a system of popular education, to prevent people growing up
ignorant and cowardly, because the ignorant man and the coward were men
without the proper use of the faculties of a man, and were mutilated and
deformed in essential parts of the character of human nature. At bottom
Smith's principle is this--that men have an original claim--a claim as
original as the claim to safety of life and property--to all the
essential conditions of an unmutilated and undeformed manhood, and that
is really only another expression for the principle that lies at the
foundation of all civil and human right, that men have a right to the
essential conditions of a normal humanity, to the presuppositions of all
humane living, to the indispensable securities for the proper
realization of our common vocation as human beings. The right to
personal liberty--to the power of working for ends of our own
prescribing, and the right to property--to the power of retaining what
we have made, to be the instrument of further activities for the ends we
have prescribed for ourselves--rest really on no other ground than that
the privileges claimed are essential conditions of a normal, an
unmutilated and undeformed manhood, and it is on this broad ground that
Adam Smith justifies the State's intervention to stop disease and supply

Smith held but a poor opinion of the capacities of Government
management, and especially of English Government management, which, he
asserted, was characterized in times of peace by "the slothful and
negligent profusion that was natural to monarchies," and in times of war
by "all the thoughtless extravagance" that was peculiar to democracies;
but nevertheless he had no hesitation in asking Government to undertake
a considerable number of industrial enterprises, because he believed
that these were enterprises which Government with all its faults was
better fitted to conduct successfully than private adventurers were. On
the other hand, Smith entertained the highest possible belief in
individual liberty, but he had never any scruple about sacrificing
liberty of contract where the sacrifice was demanded by the great moral
end of Government--the maintenance of just and humane dealing between
man and man. For example, the suppression of the truck system, which is
sometimes condemned as an undue interference with freedom of contract,
was strongly supported by Smith, who declared it to be "quite just and
equitable," inasmuch as it merely secured to the workmen the pay they
were entitled to receive and "imposed no real hardship on the
masters--it only obliged them to pay that value in money which they
pretended to pay, but did not really pay, in goods." It was only a just
and necessary protection of the weaker party to a contract against an
oppressive exaction to which, like the apothecary in "Romeo and Juliet,"
his poverty might have consented, but not his will. Precisely analogous
is Smith's position concerning usury laws. Usury laws are seldom
defended now; for one thing, money has become so abundant that the
competition of lender with lender may be trusted to as a better security
for fair and reasonable treatment of borrowers than a Government
enactment could provide. But Smith in his day was strongly in favour of
fixing a legal rate of interest, because he thought it was necessary to
prevent the practice of extortion by unscrupulous dealers on necessitous
clients. His views on truck and usury show that he had no sympathy with
those who contend that the State must on no account interfere with
grown-up people in the bargains they may make, inasmuch as grown-up
people may be expected to be quite capable of looking effectively after
their own interest. Smith recognised that grown-up people were often in
natural circumstances where it was practically impossible for them to
assert effectively not their interests merely, but even their essential
claims as fellow-citizens; and that therefore it was the State's duty to
come to the aid of those whose own economic position was weak, and to
force upon the strong certain responsibilities--or at least secure for
the weak certain broad, positive conditions--which just and humane
dealing might demand.

Now, in these ideas about truck and usury, as in the proposals
previously touched upon for checking the growth of disease or cowardice
or ignorance, is not the principle of social politics that is applied by
Smith precisely the principle that runs through our whole recent social
legislation--factory, sanitary, and educational--the principle of the
State's obligation to secure the people in the essential conditions of
all normal manhood? German writers often take Smith for an exponent, if
not for the founder, of what they call the _Rechtstaat_ theory--the
theory that the State is mainly the protector of right; but in reality
Smith's doctrine corresponded pretty closely with their own
_Kultur-und-Wohlfahrtstaat_ theory--the theory that the State is a
promoter of culture and welfare; and if further proof were wanted, it
might be found in the fact that in his doctrine of taxation he departs
altogether from the economic principle, which is popularly associated
with the _Rechtstaat_ idea, and is supposed to be a corollary of it,
that a tax is a _quid pro quo_, a price paid for a service rendered, and
ought therefore to be imposed on individuals in proportion to the
service they respectively receive from the State; and instead of this
economic principle he lays down the broad ethical one, that a tax is a
public obligation which individuals ought to be called upon to discharge
in proportion to their respective abilities. The rich cannot fairly be
said to _get_ more good from the State than the poor; they probably get
less, because they are better capable of providing for their own
defence; but the rich are able to _do_ more good to the State than the
poor, and because they are able, they are bound.

Such is the social doctrine of Adam Smith, and it is manifestly no
doctrine of rigid individualism, calling out for freedom at any price,
or banning all interference with the natural play of self-interest and
competition. The natural liberty for which the great English economist
contended was not the mere ghost of liberty worshipped by Mr. Spencer.
An ignorant man might be free, as an imprisoned man was free, within
limits, but he was not free within normal human limits. He had not the
use of his mind; he was wanting in an essential part of his manhood.
First make him a man--a whole, complete, competent man, fit for man's
vocation--then make him free. There is a common metaphysical distinction
between the formal freedom of the will and the material freedom of the
will. The drunkard, the lunatic, is formally free, for he exerts his
choice, but he is materially enslaved. The difference between liberty
according to Mr. Spencer and liberty according to Adam Smith is
something analogous. The liberty Smith desires is a substantial liberty;
it is clothed with a body--a definite body of universal human
rights--which the State is bound to realize as it would realize liberty
itself. The reason of his difference from the _laissez-faire_ theory of
Mr. Spencer, which is so often erroneously attributed to him, is that he
takes a much broader and more practical view of the original moral
rights of individuals than such ultra-individualists are accustomed to
do. While they hold that the State is there only to secure to
individuals reality and equality of freedom, he holds it is there to
secure them reality and equality of all moral rights. He would supply
all alike, therefore, with certain material securities--the material
conditions necessary to secure their moral rights with equal
completeness,--and he would protect them in the enjoyment of those
conditions against the assaults of poverty and misfortune no less than
the assaults of murderers and thieves. But beyond this line he would
refuse to go; if he stands clearly out in advance of the _laissez-faire_
position of equality of legal freedom, he stands equally clearly far
short of the socialistic position of equality of material conditions.

Now this doctrine of the great founder of English political economy has
been substantially the doctrine of his successors as well. It would be
beyond my present scope to trace the history of the doctrine of social
politics through the writings of the whole succession of English
economists, nor is it necessary. I shall choose a representative
economist from the group who are generally reckoned the most narrow and
unsympathetic, who are accused of having shifted political economy off
the broader lines on which it had been launched by Smith, who are
counted the great idolaters of self-interest and natural law, and the
scientific associates of the much-abused Manchester school--viz., the
disciples of Ricardo. Ricardo himself touches only incidentally on the
functions of the State, but he then does so to defend interventions,
such as minting money, marking plate, testing drugs, examining medical
candidates, and the like, which are meant to guard people against
deceptions they are themselves incompetent to detect. Moreover, he was
a strong advocate for at least one important extension of the State's
industrial _rôle_--he would establish a National Bank of issue with
exclusive privileges; and it is not uninteresting to remember that in
his place in Parliament he brought forward the suggestion of a system of
Government annuities for the accommodation of working men, which was
introduced by Mr. Gladstone half a century later, and has been denounced
in certain quarters as that statesman's first step in socialism, and
that he was one of a very small minority who voted for a Parliamentary
inquiry into the social system of Robert Owen.

But if Ricardo is comparatively silent on the subject, we fortunately
possess a very ample discussion of it by one of his leading disciples,
J. E. McCulloch. When Ricardo died, James Mill wrote to McCulloch, "As
you and I are his two and only genuine disciples, his memory must be a
point of connection between us;" and it was on McCulloch that the mantle
of the master descended. His "Principles of Political Economy," which
may be said to be an exposition of the system of economics according to
Ricardo, was for many years the principal textbook of the science, and
will still be admitted to be the best and most complete statement of
what, in the cant of the present day, is called orthodox political
economy. McCulloch, indeed, is more than merely the expositor of that
system; he is really one of its founders, the author of one of its most
famous dogmas, at least in its current form, the now exploded doctrine
of the Wages fund; and of all the adherents of this orthodox tradition,
McCulloch is commonly considered the hardest and most narrow. There are
economists who are supposed to show a native generous warmth which all
the severities of their science are unable to quell. John Stuart Mill is
known to have come under St. Simonian influences in his younger days,
and to have been fond ever afterwards of calling himself a socialist;
and Professor Sidgwick, in our own day, is often credited--and not
unjustly--with a like breadth of heart, and in publishing his views of
Government interference, he gives them the name of "Economic Socialism."
But in selecting McCulloch, I select an economist the rigour of whose
principles has never been suspected, and yet so striking is the
uniformity of the English tradition on this subject, that in reality
neither Mill nor Mr. Sidgwick professes a broader doctrine of social
politics, or goes a step further, or more heartily on the road to
socialism than that accredited champion of individualism, John Ramsay

McCulloch's "Principles" contains--from the second edition in 1830
onward to the last author's edition in 1849--a special chapter on the
limits of Government interference; and the chapter starts with an
explicit repudiation of the doctrine of _laissez-faire_, which was then
apparently only beginning to come into vogue in England.

"An idea," says McCulloch, "seems however to have been recently gaining
ground that the duty of the Government with regard to the domestic
policy of the country is almost entirely of a negative kind, and that it
has merely to maintain the security of property and the freedom of
industry. But its duty is by no means so simple and easily defined as
those who support this opinion would have us to believe. It is certainly
true that its interference with the pursuits of individuals has been, in
very many instances, exerted in a wrong direction, and carried to a
ruinous excess. Still, however, it is easy to see that we should fall
into a very great error if we supposed that it might be entirely
dispensed with. Freedom is not, as some appear to think, the end of
government; the advancement of the public prosperity and happiness is
its end; and freedom is valuable in so far only as it contributes to
bring it about. In laying it down, for example, that individuals should
be permitted, without let or hindrance, to engage in any business or
profession they may prefer, the condition that it is not injurious to
others is always understood. No one doubts the propriety of a Government
interfering to suppress what is or might otherwise become a public
nuisance; nor does any one doubt that it may advantageously interfere to
give facilities to commerce by negotiating treaties with foreign powers,
and by removing such obstacles as cannot be removed by individuals. But
the interference of Government cannot be limited to cases of this sort.
However disinclined, it is obliged to interfere in an infinite variety
of ways and for an infinite variety of purposes. It must, to notice
only one or two of the _classes_ of objects requiring its interference,
decide as to the species of contract to which it will lend its sanction,
and the means to be adopted to enforce true performance; it must decide
in regard to the distribution of the property of those who die
intestate, and the effect to be given to the directions in wills and
testaments; and it must frequently engage itself, or authorize
individuals or associations to engage, in various sorts of undertakings
deeply affecting the rights and interests of others and of society. The
furnishing of elementary instruction in the ordinary branches of
education for all classes of persons and the establishment of a
compulsory provision for the support of the destitute poor are generally
also included, and apparently with the greatest propriety, among the
duties incumbent on administration" (p. 262).

He allows State ownership and State management of industrial works,
wherever State ownership and management are more efficient for the
purpose than private enterprise--in other words, where they are more
economical--as in the cases of the coinage, roads, harbours, postal
communication, etc. He would expropriate land for railway purposes,
grant a monopoly to the railway company, and then subject it to
Government control in the public interest; he would impose many sorts of
restrictions on freedom of contract, freedom of industry, freedom of
trade, freedom of property, and freedom of bequest; and, what is more
important, he recognises clearly that with the growth of society fresh
interferences of a serious character will be constantly called for,
which may in some cases involve the application of entirely new
principles, or throw on the Government work of an entirely new

For example, he is profoundly impressed with the dangers of the
manufacturing system, which he saw growing and multiplying all around
him, and so far from dreaming that the course of industry should remain
uncontrolled, he even ventures, in a remarkable passage, to express the
doubt whether it may not "in the end be found that it was unwise to
allow the manufacturing system to gain so great an ascendancy as it has
done in this country, and that measures should have been early adopted
to check and moderate its growth" (p. 191). He admits that a decisive
answer to this question could only be given by the economists of a
future generation, after a longer experience of the system than was
possible when he wrote, but he cannot conceal the gravest apprehension
at the preponderance which manufactures were rapidly gaining in our
industrial economy. And his reasons are worthy of attention. The first
is the destruction of the old moral ties that knit masters and men

"But we doubt whether any country, how wealthy soever, should be looked
upon as in a healthy, sound state, where the leading interest consists
of a small number of great capitalists, and of vast numbers of
workpeople in their employment, but unconnected with them by any ties of
gratitude, sympathy, or affection. This estrangement is occasioned by
the great scale on which labour is now carried on in most businesses;
and by the consequent impossibility of the masters becoming acquainted,
even if they desired it, with the great bulk of their workpeople.... The
kindlier feelings have no share in an intercourse of this sort; speaking
generally, everything is regulated on both sides by the narrowest and
most selfish views and considerations; a man and a machine being treated
with about the same sympathy and regard" (p. 193).

The second reason is the suppression of the facilities of advancement
enjoyed by labourers under the previous _régime_. "Owing to the greater
scale on which employments are now mostly carried on, workmen have less
chance than formerly of advancing themselves or their families to any
higher situation, or of exchanging the character of labourers for that
of masters" (p. 188). For the majority of the working-class to be thus,
as he expresses it, "condemned as it were to perpetual helotism," is not
conducive to the health of a nation. The third reason is the comparative
instability of manufacturing business. It becomes a matter of the most
serious concern for a State, "when a very large proportion of the
population has been, through their agency, rendered dependent on foreign
demand, and on the caprices and mutations of fashion" (p. 192). That
also is a state of things fraught with danger to the health of a
community. McCulloch always treats political economy as if he defined
it--and the definition would be better than his own--as the science of
the working of industrial society in health and disease; and he always
throws on the State a considerable responsibility in the business of
social hygiene; going so far, we have seen in the passages just quoted,
as to suggest whether a legal check ought not to have been imposed on
the free growth of the factory system, on account of its bad effects on
the economic position of the labouring class. We had suffered the system
to advance too far to impose that check now, but there were other
measures which, in his opinion, the Legislature might judiciously take
in the same interest. It is of course impossible, by Act of Parliament,
to infuse higher views of duty or warmer feelings of ordinary human
regard into the relations between manufacturers and their workmen; but
the State might, according to McCulloch, do something to mitigate the
modern plague of commercial crises, by a policy of free trade, by
adopting a sound monetary system, by securing a continuance of peace,
and by "such a scheme of public charity as might fully relieve the
distresses without insulting the feelings or lessening the industry of
the labouring classes" (p. 192).

As with commercial crises, so with other features of the modern
industrial system; wherever they tend to the deterioration of the
labouring class, McCulloch always holds the State bound to intervene, if
it can, to prevent such a result. He would stop the immigration of what
is sometimes called pauper labour--of bodies of workpeople brought up in
an inferior standard of life--because their example and their
competition tend to pull down the native population to their own level.
The example he chooses is not the Jewish element in the East End of
London, but the much more important case of the Irish immigration into
Liverpool and Glasgow; and while he would prefer to see Government
taking steps to improve the Irish people in Ireland itself, he declares
that, if that is not practicable, then "justice to our own people
requires that measures should be adopted to hinder Great Britain from
being overrun with the outpourings of this _officina pauperum_, to
hinder Ireland from dragging us down to the same hopeless abyss of
pauperism and wretchedness in which she is sunk" (p. 422). This policy
may be wise, or it may not, but it shows very plainly--what appears so
often in his writings--how deeply McCulloch's mind was penetrated with
the conviction that one of the greatest of all the dangers from which
the State ought to do what it well can to preserve the people, was the
danger of falling to a lower standard of tastes and requirements, and
thereby losing ambition and industry, and the very possibility of rising

"This lowering of the opinions of the labouring class with respect to
the mode in which they should live is perhaps the most serious of all
the evils that can befall them.... The example of such individuals or
bodies of individuals as submit quietly to have their wages reduced, and
who are content if they get only mere necessaries, should never be held
up for public imitation. On the contrary, everything should be done to
make such apathy be esteemed discreditable. The best interests of
society require that the rate of wages should be elevated as high as
possible--that a taste for comforts and enjoyments should be widely
diffused, and, if possible, interwoven with national habits and
prejudices. Very low wages, by rendering it impossible for increased
exertions to obtain any considerable increase of advantages, effectually
hinder them from being made, and are of all others the most powerful
cause of that idleness and apathy that contents itself with what can
barely continue animal existence" (p. 415).

And he goes on to refute the idea of Benjamin Franklin, that high wages
breed indolent and dissipated habits, and to contend that they not only
improve the character and efficiency of the labourer, but are in the end
a source of gain, instead of loss, to the employer. But, although the
maintenance of a high rate of wages is so great an object of public
solicitude, it was an object which it was, in McCulloch's judgment,
outside the State's province, simply because it was outside its power,
to do anything directly to promote, because while authority could fix a
price for labour, it could never compel employers to engage labour at
that price; and consequently its interference in such a way would only
end in injury to the class it sought to befriend, as well as to the
trade of the country in general. Still, McCulloch is far from wishing to
repel the State's offices or the offices of public opinion in
connection with the business altogether. In the passage just quoted he
expressly makes an appeal to public opinion for an active interference
in a direction where, he believes, its interference might be useful; and
as for the action of the State, he approves, for one thing, of the
legalization of trades unions, and, for another, of the special
instruction of the public, at the national expense, in the principles on
which a high rate of wages depend.

In regard to the Factory Acts, while he would have the hours of labour
in the case of grown-up men settled by the parties themselves, because
he thought them the only persons competent to settle them
satisfactorily, he strongly supported the interference of the
Legislature, on grounds of ordinary humanity, to limit the working day
of children and women, because "the former are naturally, and the latter
have been rendered, through custom and the institutions of society,
unable to protect themselves" (p. 426); and he seconded all Lord
Shaftesbury's labours down to the Ten Hours Act of 1847, to which he
objected on the ground that it involved a practical interference with
all adult factory labour. On the other hand, he was in favour of the
principle of employers' liability for accidents in mines and workshops,
because there seemed no other way of saving the labourers from their own
carelessness, except by making the masters responsible for the
enforcement of the necessary regulations (p. 307).

But McCulloch's general position on this class of questions is still
better exemplified in the view he takes of the State's duty on a matter
of great present interest, the housing of the poor. Here he has no
hesitation in throwing the principal blame for the bad accommodation of
the working-classes of that day, for the underground cellar dwellings of
Liverpool and Manchester, the overcrowded lodging-houses of London, and
the streets of cottages unsupplied with water or drainage, on "the
culpable inattention of the authorities." Mr. Goschen vindicates the
legitimacy of Government interference with the housing of the people, on
the ground that it is the business of Government to see justice done
between man and man. When a man hired a house, Government had a right to
see that he got a house, and a house meant a dwelling fit for human
habitation. The inspection of houses is, according to this idea, only a
case of necessary protection against fraud, like the institution of
medical examinations, the assaying of metals, or the testing of drugs;
and protection against fraud is admitted everywhere to be the proper
business of Government. McCulloch bases his justification of the
intervention on much broader grounds. Government needs no other warrant
for condemning a house that is unfit for human habitation but the simple
fact that the house is unfit for human habitation, and it makes no
difference whether the tenant is cheated into taking the bad house, or
takes it openly because he prefers it. In fact, the strongest reason, in
McCulloch's opinion, for invoking Government interference in the case at
all, is precisely the circumstance that so many people actually prefer
unwholesome houses from motives of economy.

"Such cottages," he says, "being cheap, are always sure to find
occupiers. Nothing, however, can be more obvious than that it is the
duty of Government to take measures for the prevention and repair of an
abuse of this sort. Its injurious influence is not confined to the
occupiers of the houses referred to, though if it were, that would be no
good reason for declining to introduce a better system. But the diseases
engendered in these unhealthy abodes frequently extend their ravages
through all classes of the community, so that the best interests of the
middle and higher orders, as well as of the lowest, are involved in this
question. And, on the same principle that we adopt measures to guard
against the plague, we should endeavour to secure ourselves against
typhus, and against the brutalizing influence, over any considerable
portion of the population, of a residence amid filth and disease" (p.

The last clause is remarkable. The State is required to protect the
people from degrading influences, to prevent them from being brutalized
through the avarice or apathy of others, and to prevent them being
brutalized through the avarice or apathy of themselves. It is not what
many persons would expect, but here we have political economy, and the
most "orthodox" political economy, forcing people to go to a dearer
market for their houses, in order to satisfy a sentiment of humanity,
and imposing on the State a social mission of a broad positive
character--the mission of extirpating brutalizing influences. Yet,
expected or not, this is really the ordinary tradition of English
economists--it is the principle laid down by Smith of obliging the State
to secure for the people an unmutilated and undeformed manhood, to
provide for them by public means the fundamental conditions of a humane

McCulloch's position comes out more clearly still in the reasons he
gives for advocating a compulsory provision for the able-bodied poor,
and a national system of popular education. With regard to the impotent
poor, he is content with saying that it would be inhumanity to deny them
support, and injustice to throw their support exclusively on the
benevolent. A poor-rate is sometimes defended on what are professed to
be strictly economical grounds, by showing that it is both less
mischievous and less expensive than mendicity; but what strikes
McCulloch is not so much the wastefulness of private charity in the
hands of the benevolent as the injustice of suffering the avaricious to
escape their natural obligations. Few, however, have much difficulty in
finding one good reason or another for making a public provision for the
impotent poor; the crux of the question of public assistance is the case
of the able-bodied poor. A provision for the able-bodied poor is
practically a recognition in a particular form of "the right to labour,"
and the right to labour resounds with many revolutionary terrors in our
English ears, although it has, as a matter of fact, been practised
quietly, and most of the time in one of its most pernicious forms, in
every parish of England for nearly three hundred years.

Now on this question McCulloch was a convert. He confessed to the
Committee on the State of the Poor in Ireland, in 1830, that he had
changed his views on the subject entirely since his previous evidence in
1825. He had formerly been, he said, "too much imbued with mere theory,
with the opinions of Malthus and Townsend"; but he had become a firm
believer in the necessity and the public advantage of a legal provision
for the able-bodied poor, and he strongly recommended the introduction
of such a system into Ireland, in the first instance as an instrument of
individual relief, but also as an effectual engine of social
improvement. He gives the reasons for his conversion partly in his
evidence, and partly in a more systematic form in his "Principles of
Political Economy." First, Malthus had attributed to the Poor Law itself
effects which really sprang from certain bad arrangements that had been
engrafted on the English system of relief, but were not essential to
it--viz., the allowance system, and the law known as Gilbert's Act,
which deprived parishes of the right to refuse relief except in
workhouses, and forced them to provide work for paupers, if paupers
desired it, at or near their own houses. These two arrangements, in
McCulloch's opinion, converted the English provision for the able-bodied
poor from what we may term a wise and conditional right of labour into
an unwise and dangerous one. In the second place, he had come to see
that a legal provision for the poor, instead of having, as was alleged,
a necessary tendency to multiply pauperism, had in reality a natural
tendency to prevent its growth, because it gave the landlords and
influential ratepayers a strong pecuniary as well as moral interest in
producing that result. Its effect was thus to establish in every parish
a new local stimulus to social improvement, and it was on account of
this effect of a Poor Law that McCulloch thought it would be specially
beneficial to Ireland, because there was nothing Ireland needed more
than just such a local stimulus. In the third place, he had become more
and more profoundly impressed with the increasing gravity of the
vicissitudes and fluctuations of employment to which English labourers
were subject since England became mainly a manufacturing country, and
that unhappy feature of manufacturing industry was his principal reason
for invoking legislative assistance. A purely agricultural country, he
thought, might be able to do without a Poor Law, because agricultural
employment was comparatively steady; but in a manufacturing country a
Poor Law was indispensable, on account of the long periods of depression
or privation which were normal incidents in the life of labour in such a
country, and on account of the pernicious effect which these periods of
privation would, if unchecked, be certain to exercise upon the character
and habits of the labouring classes, through "lowering their estimate of
what is required for their comfortable and decent subsistence."
("Political Economy," p. 448.)

"During these periods of extraordinary privation the labourer, if not
effectually relieved, would imperceptibly lose that taste for order,
decency, and cleanliness which had been gradually formed and accumulated
in better times by the insensible operation of habit and example, and no
strength of argument, no force of authority, could again instil into the
minds of a new generation, growing up under more prosperous
circumstances, the sentiments and tastes thus uprooted and destroyed by
the cold breath of penury. Every return of temporary distress would
therefore vitiate the feelings and lower the sensibilities of the
labouring classes" (p. 449).

McCulloch quotes these words from Barton, but he quotes them to express
his own view, and their teaching is very explicit on the duty of
Government to the unemployed in seasons of commercial distress. In such
seasons of "extraordinary privation" the State is called upon to take
"effectual" measures--extraordinary measures, we may infer, if
extraordinary measures were necessary--for the relief of the unemployed,
not merely to save them from starvation, but to prevent them from losing
established habits of "order, decency, and cleanliness"; from getting
their feelings vitiated, their sensibilities impaired, so that they were
in danger of remaining content with a worse standard of living, and
sinking to a lower scale in the dignity of social and civilized being.
In a word, it is held to be the duty of the State to prevent, if it can,
the temporary reverses of the labouring class from resulting in its
permanent moral decadence; and as the object of the State's intervention
is to preserve the dignity, the self-respect, the moral independence and
energy of the labouring class, the manner of the intervention, the
choice of actual means and steps for administering the relief, must, of
course, be governed by the same considerations. "The true secret of
assisting the poor," says McCulloch, borrowing the words of Archbishop
Sumner, "is to make them agents in bettering their own condition, and to
supply them, not with a temporary stimulus, but with a permanent energy"
(p. 475).

The same principles come out even more strongly in McCulloch's remarks
on national education. He says, "the providing of elementary instruction
for all classes is one of the most pressing duties of Government" (p.
473); and the elementary instruction he would provide would not stop at
reading and writing, but would include even a knowledge of so much
political economy as would explain "the circumstances which elevate and
depress the rate of wages" (p. 474). It was the duty of Government to
extirpate ignorance, because, "of all obstacles to improvement,
ignorance was the most formidable"; and it was its duty to establish
Government schools for the purpose, because charity schools impaired the
self-respect and sense of independence which were themselves first
essentials of all social improvement.

"No extension of the system of charity and subscription schools can ever
fully compensate for the want of a statutory provision for the education
of the public. Something of degradation always attaches to the fact of
one's having been brought up in a charity school. The parents who send
children to such an institution, and even the children, know that they
have been received only because they are paupers unable to pay for their
education; and this consciousness has a tendency to weaken that state of
independence and self-respect, for the want of which the best education
may be but an imperfect substitute. But no such feeling could operate on
the pupils of schools established by the State" (p. 476).

There is no question with McCulloch about the right of the State to take
steps to forward the moral progress, or to prevent the moral decadence,
of the community--or any part of the community--under its care; that is
simply its plain and primary duty, though there may be question with the
State, as with other agencies, whether particular measures proposed for
the purpose are really calculated to effect it.

After this long, and I fear tedious, account of the opinions of
McCulloch, it would be needless to call more witnesses to refute those
who so commonly accuse English economists of teaching an extreme
individualism. For McCulloch may be said to be their own witness; they
hold him up as the hardest and narrowest of a hard and narrow school;
one of the ablest of them, Mr. J. K. Ingram, who writes McCulloch's
memoir in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_, going so far as to accuse him
of exhibiting "a habitual deadness in the study of social questions to
all but material considerations." We have adduced enough to disprove
that statement. The reader of McCulloch's writings is constantly struck
to observe how habitually his judgment of a social question is governed
by ethical rather than economic considerations, and how his supreme
concern always seems to be to guard the labouring poor from falling into
any sort of permanent decadence, and to place them securely on the lines
of progressive elevation. But perhaps a word may be required about the
Manchester school. Mr. Ingram states--and again his statement probably
agrees with current prepossessions--that McCulloch occupied
"substantially the same theoretic position as was occupied at a somewhat
later period by the Manchester school" (_Encyc. Brit._, art. "Political
Economy"). We have seen what McCulloch's theoretic position really was,
and it is certainly not the Manchester doctrine of popular anathema; it
is not the _Manchesterismus_ of the German schools. But the Manchester
men can scarcely be said to have properly had anything in the nature of
a general theoretic position. They were not a school of political
philosophy--they were a band of practical politicians leagued to promote
particular reforms, especially two reforms in international policy which
involved large curtailments of the _rôle_ of Government--viz., free
trade with other countries, and nonintervention in their internal
affairs; but they were far from thinking that, because it would be well
for the State to abstain from certain specific interferences, it would
be well for it to abstain from all; or that if the State had no
civilizing mission towards the people of other countries, it had
therefore no civilizing mission towards its own. Cobden, for example--to
go no farther--was a lifelong advocate of a national system of
education; he was a friend of factory legislation for women and
children, and, with respect to the poor, he taught in one of his
speeches the semi-socialistic doctrine that the poor had the first right
to maintenance from the land--that they are, as it were, the first
mortgagees. The Manchester school is really nothing but a stage
convention, a convenient polemical device for marking off a particular
theoretical extreme regarding the task of the State; but the persons in
actual life who were presumed to compose the school were no more, all
of them, adherents of that theory than Scotchmen, off the stage, have
all short kilts and red hair. And as for that theory itself, the theory
of _laissez-faire_, it has never in England been really anything more
than it is now, the plea of alarmed vested interests stealing an
unwarranted, and I believe an unwelcome, shelter under the ægis of
economic science. English economists, from Smith to McCulloch, from
McCulloch to Mr. Sidgwick, have adhered with a truly remarkable
steadiness to a social doctrine of a precisely contrary character--a
social doctrine which, instead of exhibiting any unreasonable aversion
to Government interference, expressly assigns to Government a just and
proper place in promoting the social and industrial development of the
community. In the first place, in the department of production, they
freely allow that just as there are many industrial enterprises in the
conduct of which individual initiative must, for want of resources or
other reasons, yield to joint-stock companies, so there are others for
which individuals and companies alike must give place to the State,
because the State is by nature or circumstances better fitted than
either to conduct them satisfactorily; and in the next place, in the
department of distribution, while rating the moral or personal
independence of the individual as a supreme blessing and claim, they
have no scruple in calling on the State to interfere with the natural
liberty of contract between man and man, wherever such interference
seems requisite to secure just and equitable dealing, to guard that
personal independence itself from being sapped, or to establish the
people better in any of the other elementary conditions of all humane
living. We sometimes take pride at the present day in professing a
distrust for doctrinaire or metaphysical politics, and we are no doubt
right; but that reproach cannot justly be levelled against the English
economists. They were not Dutch gardeners trying to dress the world
after an artificial scheme; that is more distinctive of the social
systems they opposed. Their own system indeed was to study Nature, to
discover the principles of sound natural social growth, and to follow
them; but they had no idea on that account of leaving things to grow
merely as they would, or of renouncing the help of good husbandry. They
had, as we have seen, a positive doctrine of social politics, which
required from the State much more than the protection of liberty and the
repression of crime; they asked the State to undertake such industrial
work as it was naturally better fitted to perform than individuals or
associations of individuals, and they asked the State to secure to the
body of the citizens the essential conditions of a normal and
progressive manhood.

Now this doctrine--which may be called the English doctrine of social
politics--seems to furnish a basis of considerable practical value for
discriminating between a wholesome and effective participation by
Government in the work of social reform, on the one hand, and those
pernicious and dangerous forms of intervention on the other, which may
be correctly known by the name of State socialism.

II. _The Nature and Principle of State Socialism._

Few words are at present more wantonly abused than the words socialism
and State socialism. They are tossed about at random, as if their
meaning, as was said of the spelling of former generations, was a mere
affair of private judgment. There is, in truth, a great deal of
socialism in the employment of the word; little respect is paid to the
previous appropriation of it; and especially since it has become, as has
been said, _hoffähig_, men press forward from the most unlikely
quarters, claim kindred with the socialists, and strive for the honour
of being called by their name. Many excellent persons, for example, have
no better pretext to advance for their claim than that they also feel a
warm sentiment of interest in the cause of the poor. Churchmen whose
duties bring them among the poor are very naturally touched with a sense
of the miseries they observe, and certain of them, who may perhaps
without offence be said to love the cause well more than wisely, come to
public platforms and declare themselves socialists--socialists, they
will sometimes explain, of an older and purer confession than the Social
Democratic Federation, but still good and genuine socialists--merely
because the religion they preach is a gospel of moral equality before
God, and of fraternal responsibility among men, whose very test in the
end is the test of human kindness--"Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of
the least of these My brethren, ye did it not to Me." But socialism is
not a feeling for the poor, nor yet for the responsibilities of society
in connection with their poverty; it is neither what is called
humanitarianism, nor what is called altruism; it is not an affair of
feeling at all, but of organization, and the feeling it breathes may not
be altruistic. The revolutionary socialists of the Continent, for
instance, are animated by as vigorous a spirit of self-interest and an
even more bitter class antagonism than a trade union or a land league.
They fight for a particular claim of right--the utterly unjustifiable
claim to the whole product of labour--and they propose to turn the world
upside down by a vast scheme of social reconstruction in order to get
their unjust, delusive, and mischievous idea realized. The gauge of
their socialism, therefore, must, after all, be looked for in their
claim and their remedy, and not in the vague sympathies of a benevolent
spectator who, without scrutinizing either the one or the other, thinks
he will call himself a socialist because he feels that there is much in
the lot of the poor man that might be mended, and that the rich might be
very properly and reasonably asked to make some sacrifices for their
brethren's sake out of their abundance. The philanthropic spectator
suffers from no scarcity of words to express his particular attitude if
he desires to do so; why then should he not leave socialists the
enjoyment of their vocable?

There is often at the bottom of this sentimental patronage of socialism
the not unchivalrous but mistaken idea that the ordinary self-interest
of the world has been glorified by economists into a sacred and
all-sufficing principle which it would be interfering with the designs
of Providence to restrict, and that therefore it is only right to side
with socialism as a protest against the position taken by the apologists
of the present system of things, without being understood to commit
one's self thereby to the particular system which socialism may propose
to put in its place. But while the economists think very rightly that
self-interest must always be regarded as the ordinary guide of life, and
that the world cannot be reasonably expected to become either better, or
better off, if everybody were to look after other people's interests
(which he knows nothing about) instead of looking after his own (of
which he at least knows something), they are far from showing any
indifference to the danger of self-interest running into selfishness. On
the contrary, they have constantly insisted--as the evidence I have
already produced abundantly proves--that where the self-interest of the
strongly placed failed to subject itself spontaneously to the restraints
of social justice and the responsibilities of our common humanity, it
was for society to step in and impose the restraints that were just and
requisite, and to do so either by public opinion or by public authority
in the way most likely to be practicable and effectual. Another thing
our sentimental friends forget is that the socialists of the present day
have no thought of substituting any other general economic motive in the
room of self-interest. If they had their schemes realized to-morrow, men
would still be paid according to the amount of their individual work,
and each would work so far for his own hand. His daily motive would be
his individual interest, though his scope of achievement would be
severely limited by law with the view of securing a better general level
of happiness in the community. The question between economists and
socialists is not whether the claims of social justice are entitled to
be respected, but whether the claims which one or other of them make
really are claims of social justice or no. Still, so firm is the hold
taken by the notion that the socialists are the special champions of
social justice, that one of our most respected prelates has actually
defined socialism in that sense. The Bishop of Rochester (now of
Winchester), in his Pastoral Letter to his Clergy at the new year of
1888, takes occasion, while warning the younger brethren against the too
headlong philanthropy which "scouts what is known as the science of
political economy," to describe socialism as "the science of maintaining
the right proportion of equity and kindness while adjudicating the
various claims which individuals and society mutually make upon each
other." In reality, socialism would be better defined as a system that
outsteps the right proportion of equity and kindness, and sets up for
the masses claims that are devoid of proportion and measure of any kind,
and whose injustice and peril often arise from that very circumstance.

If bishops carry the term off to one quarter, philosophers carry it to
another. Some identify socialism with the associative principle
generally, and see it manifested in the growth of one form of
organization as much as in the growth of another, or at most they may
limit it to the intervention of the associative principle in things
industrial, and in that event they would consider a joint-stock company,
or a co-operative store, or perhaps a building like Queen Anne's
Mansions, or the common-stair system of Scotland, to be as genuine
exhibitions of socialism as the collectivism or anarchism of the
Continental factions or the State monopolies of Prince Bismarck. But a
joint-stock company is no departure from--it is rather an extension
of--the present _régime_ of private property, free competition, and
self-interest; and why should it be described by the same name as a
system whose chief pretension is to supersede that _régime_ by a better?
Another very common definition of socialism--perhaps the most common of
all, and the last to which I shall refer here--is that socialism is the
general principle of giving society the greatest possible control over
the life of the individual, in contradistinction to the opposite
principle of individualism, which is taken to be the principle of giving
the individual the greatest possible immunity from the control of
society. Any extension of the authority of the State, any fresh
regulation of the transactions of individual citizens, is often
pronounced to be socialistic without asking what the object or nature of
the regulations may be. Socialism is identified with any enlargement,
and individualism with any contraction, of the functions of government.
But the world has not been made on this socialist principle alone, nor
on this individualist principle alone, and it can neither be explained
nor amended by means of the one without the other. Abstractions of that
order afford us little practical guidance. The socialists of real life
are not men who are bent on increasing Government control for the mere
sake of increasing Government control. There are broad tracts of the
individual's life they would leave free from social control; they would
give him, for example, full property in his house and furniture during
his lifetime, and the right to spend his income, once he had earned it,
in his own way. Their scheme, if carried out, might be found to compel
them to restrict this latter right, but their own desire and belief
undoubtedly is that the individual would have more freedom of the kind
then than he has now. They seek to extend Government control only
because, and only so far as, they believe Government control to be
necessary and fitted to realize certain theories of right and well-being
which they think it incumbent on organized society to realize; and
consequently the thing that properly characterizes their position is not
so much the degree of their confidence in the powers of the State as the
nature of the theories of right for which they invoke its intervention.
And just as socialists do not enlarge the bounds of authority from the
mere love of authority, so their opponents do not resist the enlargement
from the mere hatred of authority. They raise no controversy about the
abstract legitimacy of Government encroachments on the sphere of private
capital or of legal enlargements of the rights or privileges of labour.
There is no socialism in that; the socialism only comes in when the
encroachments are made on a field where Government administration is
unlikely to answer, and where the rights conferred are rights to which
labour can present no just and reasonable claim.

It will be objected that this is to reduce socialism to a mere matter of
more or less. The English economists, it will be said, practised a
little socialism, because they allowed the use of State means to elevate
the condition of the working classes, or to provide for the wants of the
general community; and the Continental Social Democrats only practise a
little more socialism when they cry for a working-class State or for the
progressive nationalization of all industries. But in practical life the
measure is everything. So many grains of opium will cure; so many more
will kill. The important thing for adjusting claims must always be to
get the right measure, and the objection to socialistic schemes is
precisely this, that they take up a theory of distributive justice which
is an absolutely wrong measure, or else some vague theory of
disinheritance which contains no measure at all. They would nationalize
industries without paying any respect to their suitability for
Government management, simply because they want to see all industries
nationalized; and they would grant all manner of compensating
advantages to the working class as instalments of some vague claim,
either of economic right from which they are alleged to have been ousted
by the system of capitalism, or of aboriginal natural right from which
they are said to have been disinherited by the general arrangements of
society itself. What distinguishes their position and makes it socialism
is therefore precisely this absence of measure or of the right measure,
and one great advantage of the English doctrine of social politics which
I have expounded, is that it is able to supply this indispensable
criterion. That doctrine would limit the industrial undertakings of the
State to such as it possessed natural advantages for conducting
successfully, and the State's part in social reform to securing for the
people the essential conditions of all humane living, of all normal and
progressive manhood. It would interfere, indeed, as little as possible
with liberty of speculation, because it recognises that the best way of
promoting social progress and prosperity is to multiply the
opportunities, and with the opportunities the incentives, of talent and
capital; but, while giving the strong their head, in the belief that
they will carry on the world so far after them, it would insist on the
public authority taking sharp heed that no large section of the common
people be suffered to fall permanently behind in the race, to lose the
very conditions of further progress, and to lapse into ways of living
which the opinion of the time thinks unworthy of our common humanity.
Now State socialism disregards these limits, straying generally far
beyond them, and it may not improperly be defined as the system which
requires the State to do work it is unfit to do in order to invest the
working classes with privileges they have no right to get.

The term State socialism originated in Germany a few years ago to
express the antithesis not of free, voluntary, or Christian socialism,
as seems frequently to be imagined here, but of revolutionary socialism,
which is always considered to be socialism proper, because it is the
only form of the system that is of any serious moment at the present
day. State socialism has the same general aims as socialism proper, only
it would carry out its plans gradually by means of the existing State,
instead of first overturning the existing State by revolution and
establishing in its place a new political organization for the purpose,
the Social Democratic Republic. There are socialists who fancy they have
but at any moment to choose a government and issue a decree, as Napoleon
once did--"Let misery be abolished this day fortnight"--and misery would
be abolished that day fortnight. But the State socialists are unable to
share this simple faith. They are State socialists not because they have
more confidence in the State than other socialists, but because they
have less. They consider it utterly futile to expect a democratic
community ever to be able to create a political executive that should be
powerful enough to carry through the entire socialistic programme. Like
the Social Conservatives of all countries, like our own Young England
party, for example, or the Tory Democrats of the present generation,
they combine a warm zeal for popular amelioration with a profound
distrust of popular government; but when compared with other socialists,
they take a very sober view of the capacity of government of any kind;
and although they believe implicitly in the "Social Monarchy of the
Hohenzollerns," they doubt whether the strongest monarchy the world has
ever seen would be strong enough to effect a socialistic reconstruction
of the industrial system without retaining the existence for many
centuries to come of the ancient institutions of private property and

All that is at least very frankly acknowledged by Rodbertus, the
remarkable but overrated thinker whom the State socialists of Germany
have chosen for their father. Rodbertus was always regarded as a great
oracle by Lassalle, the originator of the present socialist agitation,
and his authority is constantly quoted by the most eminent luminary
among the State socialists of those latter days, Professor Adolph
Wagner, who says it was Rodbertus that first shed on him "the Damascus
light that tore from his eyes the scales of economic individualism."
Rodbertus had lived for a quarter of a century in a political sulk
against the Hohenzollerns. Though he had served as a Minister of State,
he threw up his political career rather than accept a constitution as a
mere royal favour; he refused to work under it or recognise it by so
much as a vote at the polls. But when the power of the Hohenzollerns
became established by the victories of Königgrätz and Sedan, and when
they embarked on their new policy of State socialism, Rodbertus
developed into one of their most ardent worshippers. Their new social
policy, it is true, was avowedly adopted as a corrective of socialism,
as a kind of inoculation with a milder type of the disease in order to
procure immunity from a more malignant; but Bismarck contended at the
same time that it was nothing but the old traditional policy of the
House of Prussia, who had long before placed the right of existence and
the right of labour in the statute-book of the country, and whose most
illustrious member, Frederick the Great, used to be fond of calling
himself "the beggars' king." Under these circumstances Rodbertus came to
place the whole hope of the future in the "Social Monarchy of the
Hohenzollerns," and ventured to prophesy that a socialist emperor would
yet be born to that House who would rule possibly with a rod of iron,
but would always rule for the greatest good of the labouring class.
Still, even under a dynasty of socialist emperors Rodbertus gave five
hundred years for the completion of the economic revolution he
contemplated, because he acknowledged it would take all that time for
society to acquire the moral principle and habitual firmness of will
which would alone enable it to dispense with the institutions of private
property and inheritance without suffering serious injury.

In theory Rodbertus was a believer in the modern social democratic
doctrine of the labourer's right to the full product of his labour--the
doctrine which gives itself out as "scientific socialism," because it is
got by combining a misunderstanding of Ricardo's theory of wages with a
misunderstanding of the same economist's theory of value--and which
would abolish rent, interest, profit, and all forms of "labourless
income," and give the entire gross product to the labourer, because by
that union of scientific blunders it is made to appear that the labourer
has produced the whole product himself. Rodbertus, in fact, claimed to
be the author of that doctrine, and fought for the priority with Marx,
though in reality the English socialists had drawn the same conclusions
from the same blunders long before either of them; but author or no
author of it, his sole reason for touching the work of social reform at
all was to get that particular claim of right recognised. Yet for five
hundred years Rodbertus will not wrong the labourers by granting them
their full rights. He admits that without the assistance of the private
capitalist during that interval labourers would not produce so much
work, and therefore could not earn so much wages as they do now; and
consequently, in spite of his theories, he declines to suppress rent and
interest in the meantime, and practically tells the labourers they must
wait for the full product of labour till the time comes when they can
produce the full product themselves. That is virtually to confess that
while the claim may be just then, it is unjust now; and although
Rodbertus never makes that acknowledgment, he is content to leave the
claim in abeyance and to put forward in its place, as a provisional
ideal of just distribution more conformable to the present situation of
things, the claim of the labourer to a progressive share, step for step
with the capitalist, in the results of the increasing productivity given
to labour by inventions and machinery. He thought that at present, so
far from getting the whole product of labour, the labourer was getting a
less and less share of its products every day, and though this can be
easily shown to be a delusive fear, Rodbertus's State socialism was
devised to counteract it.

For this purpose the first requisite was the systematic management of
all industries by the State. The final goal was to be State property as
well as State management, but for the greater part of five centuries the
system would be private property and State management. Sir Rowland Hill
and the English railway nationalizers proposed that the State should own
the lines, but that the companies should continue to work them;
Rodbertus's idea, on the contrary, is that the State should work, but
not own. But then the State should manage everything and everywhere.
Co-operation and joint-stock management were as objectionable to him as
individual management. He thought it a mere delusion to suppose, as some
socialists did, that the growth of joint-stock companies and
co-operative societies is a step in historical evolution towards a
socialist _régime_. It was just the opposite; it was individual property
in a worse form, and he always told his friend Lassalle that it was a
hopeless dream to expect to bring in the reign of justice and
brotherhood by his plan of founding productive associations on State
credit, because productive societies really led the other way, and
created batches of joint-stock property, which he said would make itself
a thousand times more bitterly hated than the individual property of
to-day. One association would compete with another, and the group on a
rich mine would use their advantage over the group on a poor one as
mercilessly as private capitalists do now. Nothing would answer the end
but State property, and nothing would conduce to State property but
State management.

The object of all this intervention, as we have said, is to realize a
certain ideal or standard of fair wages--the standard according to which
a fair wage is one that grows step by step with the productive capacity
of the country; and the plan Rodbertus proposes to realize it by is
practically a scheme of compulsory profit-sharing. He would convert all
land and capital into an irredeemable national stock, of which the
present owners would be constituted the first or original holders, which
they might sell or transfer at pleasure but not call up, and on which
they should receive, not a fixed rent or rate of interest, but an annual
dividend varying with the produce or profits of the year. The produce of
the year was to be divided into three parts: one for the landowners, to
be shared according to the amount of stock they respectively held; a
second for the capitalists, to be shared in the same way; and the third
for the labourers, to be shared by them according to the quantity of
work they did, measured by the time occupied and the relative strain of
their several trades. This division was necessarily very arbitrary in
its nature; there was no principle whatever to decide how much should go
to the landowners, and how much to capitalists, and how much to
labourers; and although there was a rule for settling the price of
labour in one trade as compared with the price of labour in another, it
is a rule that would afford very little practical guidance if one came
to apply it in actual life. At all events, Rodbertus himself toiled for
years at a working plan for his scheme of wages, but though he always
gave out that he had succeeded in preparing one, he steadily refused to
disclose it even to trusted admirers like Lassalle and Rudolph Meyer,
on the singular pretext that the world knew too little political
economy as yet to receive it, and at his death nothing of the sort seems
to have been discovered among his papers. Is it doing him any injustice
to infer that he had never been able to arrive at a plan that satisfied
his own mind as to its being neither arbitrary nor impracticable?

Now this is a good specimen of State socialism, because it is so
complete and brings out so decisively the broad characteristics of the
system. In the first place, it desires a progressive and indiscriminate
nationalization of all industries, not because it thinks they will be
more efficiently or more economically managed in consequence of the
change, but merely as a preliminary step towards a particular scheme of
social reform; in the next place, that scheme of social reform is an
ideal of equitable distribution which is demonstrably false, and is
admittedly incapable of immediate realization; in the third place, a
provisional policy is adopted in the meanwhile by pitching arbitrarily
on a certain measure of privileges and advantages that are to be
guaranteed to the labouring classes by law as partial instalments of
rights deferred or compensations for rights alleged to be taken away.

It may be that not many State socialists are so thoroughgoing as
Rodbertus. Few of them possibly accept his theory of the labourer's
right--which is virtually that the labourer has a right to everything,
all existing wealth being considered merely an accumulation of unpaid
labour--and few of them may throw so heavy a burden on the State as the
whole production and the whole distribution of the country. But they all
start from some theory of right that is just as false, and they all
impose work on the State which the State cannot creditably perform. They
all think of the mass of mankind as being disinherited in one way or
another by the present social system, perhaps through the permission of
private property at all, perhaps through permission of its inequalities.
M. de Laveleye, indeed, goes a step further back still. In an article he
has contributed on this subject to the _Contemporary Review_, he uses as
his motto the saying of M. Renan that Nature is injustice itself, and he
would have society to correct not merely the inequalities which society
may have itself had a share in establishing, but also the inequalities
of talent or opportunity which are Nature's own work. Accordingly, M. de
Laveleye describes himself as a State socialist, because he thinks "the
State ought to make use of its legitimate powers for the establishment
of the equality of conditions among men in proportion to their personal
merit." Equality of conditions and personal merit are inconsistent
standards, but if they were harmonious, it would be beyond the power of
the State to realize them for want of an effective calculus of either.

Few State socialists, however, profess the purpose of correcting the
differences of native endowment; for the most part, when they found
their policy on any theoretic idea at all, they found it on some idea of
historical reparation. In this country, socialist notions always crop up
out of the land. German socialists direct their attack mainly on
capital, but English socialism fastens very naturally on property in
land, which in England is concentrated into unnaturally few hands: and a
claim is very commonly advanced for more or less indefinite compensation
to the labouring class on account of their alleged disinheritance,
through the institution of private property, from their aboriginal or
natural rights to the use of the earth, the common possession of the
race. That is the ground, for example, which Mr. Spencer takes for
advocating land nationalization, and Mr. Chamberlain for his various
claims for "ransom." The last-comer is held to have as good a right to
the free use of the earth as the first occupant; and if society deprives
him of that right for purposes of its own, he is maintained to be
entitled to receive some equivalent, as if society does not already give
the new-comer vastly more than it took away. His chances of obtaining a
decent living in the world, instead of being reduced, have been
immensely multiplied through the social system that has resulted from
the private appropriation of land. The primitive economic rights whose
loss socialists make the subject of so much lamentation are generally
considered to be these four: (1) the right to hunt; (2) the right to
fish; (3) the right to gather nuts and berries; and (4) the right to
feed a cow or sheep on the waste land. Fourier added a fifth--which was
certainly a right much utilized in early times--the right of theft from
people over the border of the territory of one's own tribe. Let that
right be thrown in with the rest; then the claim with which every
English child is alleged to be born, and for which compensation is
asked, is the claim to a thirty-millionth part of the value of these
five aboriginal uses of the soil of England; and what is that worth?
Why, if the "prairie value" of the soil is estimated at the high figure
of a shilling the acre per annum, it would only give every inhabitant
something under half a crown, and when compensation is demanded for the
loss of this ridiculous pittance, one calls to mind what immensely
greater compensations the modern child is born to. Civilization is
itself a social property, a common fund, a people's heritage,
accumulating from one generation to another, and opening to the
new-comer economic opportunities and careers incomparably better and
more numerous than the ancient liberties of fishing in the stream or
nutting in the forest. The things actually demanded for the poor in
liquidation of this alleged claim may often be admissible on other
grounds altogether, but to ask them in the name of compensation for the
loss of those primitive economic rights--even though it was done by
Spencer or Cobden--is certainly State socialism.

Mr. Chamberlain's famous "ransom" speeches are an example of that. There
was nothing socialist about the substance of his proposals. He expressly
disclaimed all sympathy with the idea of equality of conditions; he
hesitated about applying the graduated taxation principle to anything
but legacies; he explicitly said he would do nothing to discourage the
cumulative principle in the rich, or the habit of industry in the poor;
he asked mainly for free schools, free libraries, free parks, and other
things of a like character; but then he asked for them as a penalty for
wrong-doing, instead of an obligation of ability--as a ransom to be paid
by the rich, or by society generally, for having ousted the poor out of
their aboriginal rights. Mr. Chamberlain merely pled for useful social
reforms in a socialistic spirit.

The favourite theory on which the German State socialists proceed seems
to be that men are entitled to an equalization of opportunities, to an
immunity, as far as human power can secure it, from the interposition of
chance and change. That at least is the view of Professor Adolph
Wagner, whose position on the subject is of considerable consequence,
because he is the economist-in-ordinary to the German Government, and
has been Prince Bismarck's principal adviser in connection with all his
recent social legislation. Professor Wagner may be taken as the most
eminent and most authoritative exponent of the theory of State
socialism, and he recently developed his views on the subject afresh in
some articles in the Tübingen _Zeitschrift für die Gesammten
Staatswissenschaften_ for 1887, on "Finanz-politik und
Staatsozialismus." According to Wagner, the chief aim of the State at
present--in taxation and in every other form of its activity--ought to
be to alter the national distribution of wealth to the advantage of the
working class. All politics must become social politics; the State must
turn workman's friend. For we have arrived at a new historical period;
and just as the feudal period gave way to the absolutist period, and the
absolutist period to the constitutional, so now the constitutional
period is merging in what ought to be called the social period, because
social ideas are very properly coming more and more to influence and
control everything, alike in the region of production, in the region of
distribution, and in the region of consumption. Now, according to
Wagner, the business of the State socialist is simply to facilitate the
development of this change--to work out the transition from the
constitutional to the social epoch in the best, wisest, and most
wholesome way for all parties concerned. He rejects the so-called
"scientific socialism" of Marx and Rodbertus and Lassalle, and the
practical policy of the social democratic agitation; and he will not
believe either that a false theory like theirs can obtain a lasting
influence, or that a party that builds itself on such a theory can ever
become a real power. But, at the same time, he cannot set down the
socialistic theory as a mere philosophical speculation, or the
socialistic movement as merely an artificial product of agitation. The
evils of both lie in the actual situation of things; they are
products--necessary products, he says--of our modern social development;
and they will never be effectually quieted till that development is put
on more salutary lines. They have a soul of truth in them, and that soul
of truth in the doctrines and demands of radical socialism is what
State socialism seeks to disengage, to formulate, to realize. It is
quite true, for example, that the present distribution of wealth, with
its startling inequalities of accumulation and want, is historically the
effect, first, of class legislation and class administration of law; and
second, of mere blind chance operating on a legal _régime_ of private
property and industrial freedom, and a state of the arts which gave the
large scale of production decided technical advantages. In one of his
former writings, Professor Wagner contended that German peasants lived
to this day in mean thatched huts, simply because their ancestors had
been impoverished by feudal exactions and ruined by wars which they had
no voice in declaring; and he seems to be now as profoundly impressed
with the belief that the present liberty allowed to unscrupulous
speculators to utilize the chances and opportunities of trade at the
cost of others is producing evils in no way less serious, which ought to
be checked effectively while there is yet time. So long as such
tendencies are left at work, he says it is idle trying to treat
socialism with any cunning admixture of cakes and blows, or charging
State socialists with heating the oven of social democracy. State
socialists, he continues, comprehend the disease which Radical
socialists only feel wildly and call down fire to cure, and they are as
much opposed to the purely working-class State of the latter, as they
are to the purely constitutional State of our modern _Liberalismus
vulgaris_, as Wagner calls it.

The true Social State lies, in his opinion, between the two. What the
new social era demands--the era which is already, he thinks, well in
course of development, but which it is the business of State socialism
to help Providence to develop aright--is the effective participation of
poor and rich alike in the civilization which the increased productive
resources of society afford the means of enjoying; and this is to be
brought about in two ways: first, by a systematic education of the whole
people according to a well-planned ideal of culture, and second, by a
better distribution of the income of society among the masses. Now, to
carry out these requirements, the idea of liberty proper to the
constitutional era must naturally be finally discarded, and a very
large hand must be allowed to the public authority in every department
of human activity, whether relating to the production, distribution, or
consumption of wealth. In the first place, in order to destroy the
effect of chance and of the utilization of chances in creating the
present accumulations in private hands, it is necessary to divert into
the public treasury as far as possible the whole of that part of the
national income which goes now, in the form of rent, interest, or
profit, into the pockets of the owners of land and capital, and the
conductors of business enterprises. Wagner would accordingly nationalize
(or municipalize) gradually so much of the land, capital, and industrial
undertakings of the country as could be efficiently managed as public
property or public enterprises, and that would include all undertakings
which tend to become monopolies even in private hands, or which, being
conducted best on the large scale, are already managed under a form of
organization which, in his opinion, has most of the faults and most of
the merits of State management--viz., the form of joint-stock companies.
He would in this way throw on the Government all the great means of
communication and transport, railways and canals, telegraphs and post,
and all banking and insurance; and on the municipalities all such things
as the gas, light, and water supply. Although he recognises the
suitability of Government management as a consideration to be weighed in
nationalizing an industry, he states explicitly that the reason for the
change he proposes is not in the least the fiscal or economic one that
the industry can be more advantageously conducted by the Government, but
is a theory of social politics which requires that the whole economic
work of the people ought to be more and more converted from the form of
private into the form of public organization, so that every working man
might be a public servant and enjoy the same assured existence that
other public servants at present possess.

In the next place, since many industries must remain in private hands,
the State is bound to see the existence of the labourers engaged in
private works guaranteed as securely as those engaged in public works.
It must take steps to provide them with both an absolute and a relative
increase of wages by instituting a compulsory system of paying wages as
a percentage of the gross produce; it must guarantee them a certain
continuity of employment; must limit the hours of their labour to the
length prescribed by the present state of the arts in the several
trades; and supply a system of public insurance against accidents,
sickness, infirmity, and age, together with a provision for widows and

In the third place, all public works are to be managed on the
socialistic principle of supplying manual labourers with commodities at
a cheaper rate than their social superiors. They are to have advantages
in the matters of gas and water supply, railway fares, school fees, and
everything else that is provided by the public authority.

In the fourth place, taxation is to be employed directly to mitigate the
inequalities of wealth resulting from the present commercial system, and
to save and even increase the labourer's income at the expense of the
income of other classes. This is to be done by the progressive
income-tax, and by the application of the product of indirect taxation
on certain articles of working-class consumption to special
working-class ends. For example, he thinks Prince Bismarck's proposed
tobacco monopoly might be made "the patrimony of the disinherited."

In the fifth place, the State ought to take measures to wean the people
not only from noxious forms of expenditure, like the expenditure on
strong drink, but from useless and wasteful expenditure, and to guide
them into a more economic, far-going, and beneficial employment of the
earnings they make.

Now for all this work, involving as it does so large an amount of
interference with the natural liberty of things, Wagner not unreasonably
thinks that a strong Government is absolutely indispensable--a
Government that knows its own mind, and has the power and the will to
carry it out; a Government whose authority is established on the history
and opinion of the nation, and stands high above all the contending
political factions of the hour. And in Germany, such an executive can
only be found in the present Empire, which is merely following
"Frederician and Josephine traditions" in coming forward, as it did in
the Imperial message of November, 1881, as a genuine "social monarchy."

In this doctrine of Professor Wagner we find the same general features
we have already seen in the doctrine of Rodbertus. It is true he would
not nationalize all industries whatsoever; he would only nationalize
such industries as the State is really fit to manage successfully. He
admits that uneconomic management can never contribute to the public
good, and so far he accepts a very sound principle of limitation. But
then he applies the principle with too great laxity. He has an excessive
idea of the State's capacities. He thinks that every business now
conducted by a joint-stock company could be just as well conducted by
the Government, and ought therefore to be nationalized; but experience
shows--railway experience, for example--that joint-stock management,
when it is good, is better than Government management at its best. Then
Professor Wagner thinks every industry which has a natural tendency to
become in any case a practical monopoly would be better in the hands of
the Government; but Government might interfere enough to restrain the
mischiefs of monopoly--as it does in the case of railways in this
country, for example--without incurring the liabilities of complete
management. Professor Wagner would in these ways throw a great deal of
work on Government which Government is not very fit to accomplish
successfully, and he would like to throw everything on it, if he could
overcome his scruples about its capabilities, because he thinks
industrial nationalization would facilitate the realization of his
particular views of the equitable distribution of wealth. It is true,
again, that Wagner's theory of equitable distribution is not the theory
of Rodbertus--he rejects the right of labour to the whole product; but
his theory, if less definite, is not less unjustifiable. It is virtually
the theory of equality of conditions which considers all inequalities of
fortune wrong, because they are held to come either from chance,
or--what is worse--from an unjust utilization of chance, and which, on
that account, takes comparative poverty to constitute of itself a
righteous claim for compensation as against comparative wealth. Now, a
state of enforced equality of conditions would probably be found neither
possible nor desirable, but it is in its very conception unjust. It may
be well, as far as it can be done, to check refined methods of deceit,
or cruel utilizations of an advantageous position, but it can never be
right to deprive energy, talent, and character of the natural reward and
incentive of their exertions. The world would soon be poor if it
discouraged the skill of the skilful, as it would soon cease to be
virtuous if it ostracized those who were pre-eminently honest or just.
The idea of equality has been a great factor in human progress, but it
requires no such outcome as this. Equality is but the respect we owe to
human dignity, and that very respect for human dignity demands security
for the fruits of industry to the successful, and security against the
loss of the spirit of personal independence in the mass of the people.
But while that is so, there is one broad requirement of that same
fundamental respect for human dignity which must be admitted to be
wholly just and reasonable--the requirement which we have seen to have
been recognised by the English economists--that the citizens be, as far
as possible, secured, if necessary by public compulsion and public
money, in the elementary conditions of all humane living. The State
might not be right if it gave the aged a comfortable superannuation
allowance, or the unemployed agreeable work at good wages; but it is
only doing its duty when, with the English law, it gives them enough to
keep them, without taking away from the one the motives for making a
voluntary provision against age, or from the other the spur to look out
for work for themselves.

It will be said that this is a standard that is subject to a certain
variability; that a house may be considered unfit for habitation now
that our fathers would have been fain to occupy; that shoes seem an
indispensable element of humane living now, though, as Adam Smith
informs us, they were still only an optional decency in some parts of
Scotland in his time. But differences of this nature lead to no
practical difficulty, and the standard is fixity of measure itself when
compared with the indefinite claims that may be made in the name of
historical compensation, or wild theories of distributive justice, and
it makes a wholesome appeal to recognised obligations of humanity
instead of feeding a violent sense of unbounded hereditary wrong. At
all events, it presents the true equality--equality of moral
rights--over against the false equality of State socialism--equality of
material conditions; and it is able to present a better face against
that system, because it recognises a certain measure of material
conditions among the original moral rights. For this reason the English
theory of social politics is the best practical criterion for
discriminating between socialistic legislation and wholesome social
reforms. The State socialistic position cannot be advantageously
attacked from the ground of Mr. Spencer and the adherents of
_laissez-faire_, who merely say, Let misfortune and poverty alone;
whether remediable or irremediable, they are not the State's affairs.
The two theories nowhere come within range; but the English theory meets
State socialism at every point, almost hand to hand, for it admits the
State's competency to deal with poverty and misfortune, and to alter
men's material conditions to the extent needed for the practical
realization of their full moral rights.

III. _State Socialism and Social Reform._

On this English theory of social politics, the State, though not
socialist, is very frankly social reformer, and those schools of
opinion, which are usually thought to have been most averse to
Government intervention, have been among the most earnest in pressing
that _rôle_ upon the State. Cobden, I presume, may be taken as a fair
representative of the Manchester school, and Cobden, with all his love
of liberty, loved progress more, and thought the best Government was the
Government that did most for social reform. When he visited Prussia in
1838, he was struck with admiration at the paternal but improving rule
he found in operation there. "I very much suspect," he said, "that at
present for the great mass of the people Prussia possesses the best
Government in Europe. I would gladly give up my taste for talking
politics, to secure such a state of things in England. Had our people
such a simple and economical Government, so deeply imbued with justice
to all, and aiming so constantly to elevate mentally and morally its
population, how much better would it be for the twelve or fifteen
millions in the British Empire, who, while they possess no electoral
rights, are yet persuaded they are freemen!" So far from thinking, as
the Manchester man of polemics is always made to think, that the State
goes far enough when it secures to every man liberty to pursue his own
interest his own way, as long as he does not interfere with the
corresponding right of his neighbours, the Manchester man of reality
takes the State severely to task for neglecting to promote the mental
and moral elevation of the people; the chief end of Government being to
establish not liberty alone, but every other necessary security for
rational progress. The theory of _laissez-faire_ would of course permit
measures required for the public safety, but what Cobden calls for are
measures of social amelioration. Provisions for the better protection of
person and property, as they exist, against violence or fraud, make up
but a small part of legitimate State duty, compared with provisions for
their better development, for enlarging the powers of the national
manhood, or the product of the national resources. The institution of
property itself is a provision for progress, and could never have
originated under the system of _laissez-faire_, which now makes it a
main branch of State work to defend it. In the form of permanent and
exclusive possession, it is undoubtedly a contravention of the equal
freedom of all to the use of their common inheritance, committed for the
purpose of securing their more productive use of it. It interferes with
their access to the land, and with the equality of their opportunities,
but then it enhances and concentrates the energies of the occupants, and
it doubles the yield of the soil. It promotes two objects, which are
quite as paramount concerns of the State as liberty itself--it improves
the industrial manhood of the nation, and it increases the productivity
of the natural resources; and institutions that conduce to such results
are not really infractions of liberty, but rather complements of it,
because they give people an ampler use of their own powers, and create,
by means of the increase of production they work, more and better
opportunities than those they take away.

Now the lines of legitimate intervention prescribed by the necessities
of progress, and already followed in the original institution of
property, will naturally, when extended through our complicated
civilization, include a very considerable and varied field of social and
industrial activity, and this has been all along recognised by the
English economists and statesmen. While opposed to the State doing
anything either moral or material for individuals, which individuals
could do better, or with better results, for themselves, they agreed in
requiring the State, first, to undertake any industrial work it had
superior natural advantages for conducting successfully; and second, to
protect the weaker classes effectively in the essentials of all rational
and humane living--in what Adam Smith calls "an undeformed and
unmutilated manhood"--not only against the ravages of violence or fear
or insecurity, but against those of ignorance, disease, and want. Smith,
we know, would even save them from cowardice by a system of military
training, and from fanaticism by an established Church, because, he
said, cowardice and fanaticism were as great deformities of manhood as
ignorance or disease, and prevented a man from having command of himself
and his own powers quite as effectually as violence or oppression. Laws
which give every man better command and use of his own energies are in
manifest harmony with liberty, and for the State to do such industrial
work as it has special natural advantages for doing is conformable with
the principle of free-trade itself, which has always prescribed to men
and nations as the best rule for their prosperity, that they should
concentrate their strength on the branches of industry they possess
natural advantages for cultivating, and give up wasting their labour on
less productive employment. Mr. Chamberlain is certainly wrong in
thinking over-government an extinct danger under democratic
institutions, a mere survival from times of oppression which haunts the
people still, though they are their own masters, with foolish fears of
over-governing themselves. In reality, the danger has much more probably
increased, as John Stuart Mill believed, for if we cannot over-govern
ourselves, we can very easily and cheerfully over-govern one another,
and a majority may impose its brute will with even less scruple than a
monarch; but however that may be, those who tremble most sincerely for
the ark of liberty cannot see any undue contraction of the field of
individual action in an extension of authority for either of the two
purposes here specified, for the purpose of undertaking industrial work
which private initiative cannot prosecute so advantageously, or of
making more secure to the weaker citizens those primary conditions of
normal humanity, which are really their natural right. The first of
these purposes is quite consistent with the principles of men like W.
von Humboldt, who contend that the best means of national prosperity is
the cultivation to the utmost of the individual energy of the people,
and who are opposed to Government interference because it represses or
supplants that energy. They welcome everything that tends to economize
and develop energy, to place things in the hands of those that can do
them best, and generally to increase the productive capacity of the
whole community. They believe that machinery, division of labour,
factory systems, keenest conditions of competition, however they may at
first seem to contract men's opportunities of employment, always end in
multiplying them, and, because they increase or economize the productive
powers of those actually employed, really expand the field of employment
for all. Now Government management would of course have a like operation
wherever Government management effected a like economy or increase in
the productive powers of society, and would really expand the field of
individual initiative which it appeared to contract; and those who
believe most in individual energy and its power of seeking out for
itself the most advantageous new outlets, will find least to complain of
in an intervention of authority which releases men from work ill-suited
to their powers to do, and sends them into work where their powers can
be more fruitfully occupied.

The second purpose of legitimate intervention seems even less open to
objection from that side. The State is asked to go in social reform only
as far as it goes in judicial administration--it is asked to secure for
every man as effectively as it can those essentials of all rational and
humane living which are really every man's right, because without them
he would be something less than man, his manhood would be wanting,
maimed, mutilated, deformed, incapable of fulfilling the ends of its
being. Those original requirements of humane existence are dues of the
common nature we wear, which, we cannot see extinguished in others
without an injury to our own self-respect, and the State is bound to
provide adequate securities for one of them as much as for another. The
same reason which justified the State at first in protecting person and
property against violence, justified it yesterday in abolishing slavery,
justifies it to-day in abolishing ignorance, and will justify it
to-morrow in abolishing other degrading conditions of life. The public
sense of human dignity may grow from age to age and be offended
to-morrow by what it tolerates to-day, but the principle of sound
intervention is all through the same--that the proposed measure is
necessary to enable men to live the true life of a man and fulfil the
proper ends of rational being. A thoughtful French writer defends State
intervention for the purpose of social amelioration as being a mere duty
of what he calls reparative justice. Popular misery and decadence, he
would say, is always very largely the result of bad laws and other bad
civil conditions, as we see it plainly to have been in the case of the
Irish cottiers, the Scotch crofters, and the rural labourers of England,
and when the community has really inflicted the injury, the community is
bound in the merest justice to repair it. And the obligation would not
be exhausted with the repeal of bad laws; it would require the positive
restoration to the declining populations of the conditions of real
prosperity from which they fell. But though this is a specific ground
which may occasionally quicken the State's remedial action with
something of the energy of remorse, it is no extension of its natural
and legitimate sphere of intervention, and the State might properly take
every measure necessary for the effectual restoration of a declining
section of the population to conditions of real prosperity on the broad
and simple principle already laid down, that the measure is necessary to
put those people in a position to fulfil their vocation as human beings.
Hopeless conditions of labour are as contrary to sound nature, and as
fatal to any proper use of man's energies, as slavery itself, and their
mere existence constitutes a sufficient cause for the State's
intervention, apart from any special responsibility the State may bear
for their historical origin. Even the measure of the required
intervention is no way less, for if its purpose is to preserve some
essential of full normal manhood, its only limit is that of being
effectual to serve the purpose. The original natural obligation of the
State needs no expansion then from historical responsibilities to cover
any effectual form of remedial action against the social decadence of
particular classes of the population, whether it be the constitution of
a new right like the right to a fair rent, the adoption of
administrative measures like the migration of redundant inhabitants, or
the provision of wise facilities for the rest by the loan of public

It is plain, therefore, that we have here within the lines of accepted
and even "orthodox" English theory a doctrine of social politics which
gives the Government an ample and perfectly adequate place in the
promotion of all necessary social reform; and if we are all socialists
now, as is so often said, it is not because we have undergone any change
of principles on social legislation, but only a public awakening to our
social miseries. The Churches, for example, while they left Lord
Shaftesbury to fight his battles for the helpless alone, have now shared
in this social awakening, and show not only a general ardour to agitate
social questions, but even some pains to understand them; but the
Churches did not neglect Lord Shaftesbury fifty years ago, because they
thought his Factory Bills proceeded from unsound views of the State's
functions, but merely because their interest was not then sufficiently
aroused in the temporal welfare of the poor, and with all their
individual charities they responded little to the grievances of social
classes. We are all socialists now, only in feeling as much interest in
these grievances as the socialists are in the habit of doing, but we
have not departed from our old lines of social policy, and there is no
need we should, for they are broad enough to satisfy every claim of
sound social reform.

It is only when these lines are transgressed that, strictly speaking,
socialism begins; and though it is hopeless to think of confining the
vulgar use of the word to its strict signification, it is at least
essential to do so if we desire any clear or firm grasp of principle.
The socialism of the present time extends the State's intervention from
those industrial undertakings it is fitted to manage well to all
industrial undertakings whatever, and from establishing securities for
the full use of men's energies to attempting to equalize in some way the
results of their use of them. It may be shortly described as aiming at
the progressive nationalization of industries with a view to the
progressive equalization of incomes. The common pleas for this policy
are, first, the necessity of introducing a distribution of wealth more
in accordance with personal merit by neutralizing the effects of chance,
which at present throw some into opulence without any co-operation from
their own labour, and press thousands into penury in spite of their most
honest exertions; and second, the advantage society would reap from the
mere economy of the resources at present wasted in unnecessary
competition. Both pleas are, however delusive; it is neither good nor
possible to suppress chance, and if competition involves some loss, it
yields a much more abounding gain.

A sense of the blind play of chance in all things human lies indeed
beneath all work of social relief. "Hodie mihi, cras tibi," wrote the
good Regent Murray over his lintel to avert the grudge of envy, and the
same feeling of the uncertainty of fortune quickens the thought of pity.
Men reflect how much of their own comfort they owe to good circumstances
rather than good deserts, and how much more bad circumstances have often
to do with poverty than bad guiding. To change these bad conditions so
far as to preserve for every man intact the essentials of common
progressive manhood is a proper object of social work. But while
mitigating the operation of chance to that extent is well, to try and
suppress its operation altogether would be injurious, even if it were
possible. For there is no pursuit under the sun in which chance has not
its part as well as skill, and skill itself is often nothing but a quick
grasp of happy chance. To discourage the alert from seizing good
opportunities on the wing, by confiscating the results and distributing
them among the languid and inactive, is the same thing as to discourage
them by like means from exerting all their industry in any other way. It
violates their individual right with no better effect than to cripple
the national production. They are entitled to the best conditions for
the successful use of their individual energies, and the best conditions
for the use of individual energies are the true securities for national
progress. The sound policy is not the greater equalization of
opportunities, but their greater utilization. It may be right to make
ships seaworthy and their masters competent navigators, but if one of
them gets delayed in a calm or disabled by a storm, while another has
caught a fair wind and is carried on to port, it would answer no good
purpose to equalize their gains for the mere correction of the
inequality in their opportunities. It would relax in both masters alike
the supreme essentials of all successful labour--activity, vigilance,
enterprise. State action with respect to the quips and arrows of fortune
ought to go as far but no farther than State action with respect to the
crimes and hostilities of men, or with respect to evil forces of nature
like those of infectious diseases--it ought to content itself with
effectually protecting the primary conditions of sound manhood against
their outrages. It may do what it can, not merely to relieve the
unfortunate in their extremity, but to prevent their coming to
extremity, to arrest, if possible, their decline, to check or soften the
trade fluctuations that often swamp them, and to facilitate their
self-recovery; but, when it goes on to suppress or equalize the
operation of fortune, it destroys the good with the evil, and even if it
removed the tares, would find it had only spoiled the harvest of wheat.
The present industrial system has its defects, but it certainly has one
immense advantage which would be forfeited under socialism--it tends to
elicit to their utmost the talents and energies alike of employers and
employed. The languor of the "Government stroke" and the slow mechanism
of a State department are unfavourable to an abundant production. The
general slackening of industry, and the extinction of those innumerable
sources of active initiative which at present are so busy pushing out
new and fruitful developments, are too great a price to pay for the
suppression of the evils of competition. To effect some economies in the
use of capital, we damage or destroy the forces by which capital is
produced, and really lose the pound to save the penny.

Even from the standing-point of a good distribution of wealth, if by a
good distribution we mean, not an equal distribution of the produce,
however small the individual share, but, what is surely much better, a
high general level of comfort, though considerable inequalities may
remain, then an abundant production is still the most indispensable
thing, for it is the most certain of all means to that high general
level of comfort. Even in those agricultural countries where this result
is promoted by a land system favouring peasant properties, the result is
largely due to the fact that occupying ownership is itself the best
condition for high production; and if we compare the principal modern
industrial nations, we shall find labour enjoying the best real
remuneration in those where the rate of production is highest, where
employers are most competent, machinery most perfected, and labour
itself personally most efficient. And, on the other hand, while the
general level of comfort rises under a policy that develops productivity
even at the risk of widening inequality, the general level of comfort
always sinks under the contrary policy which sacrifices productivity to
socialistic ideas and claims.

We have practical experience of the working of socialism in various
forms, and under the most opposite conditions of culture, and the
experience is everywhere the same. Custom in Samoa, for example, gives a
man a pretty strict right to go to his neighbour and requisition what he
wants, or even to quarter himself in the house without payment, as long
as he pleases. No one dares to refuse, for fear of losing credit and
suffering reproach. Originating as a well-meant refuge for the
distressed, the system has become still more a subterfuge for the lazy,
and Dr. Turner sums up his account of it by saying, "This communistic
system is a sad hindrance to the industrious, and eats like a
canker-worm at the roots of individual and national progress." The
disheartening of the industrious has an even worse effect than the
encouragement of the indolent; the more they make, the more subject they
are to the imposition. The English agricultural labourers belong to a
very different state of society from the savages of Samoa. They are of
an energetic race, which if it does not positively love work, has
probably as little aversion to it as any nation in the world, and seems
often really to delight in the hardest exertion; but in England the
effect of giving the poor a similar socialistic right was precisely the
same as in Samoa. While we are supposed to have been advancing in
socialism with our Factory Acts, we were really retreating from it in
our Poor Law. The old English laws which for centuries first fixed
labourers' wages, and then made up the deficiencies of the wages, if
such occurred, out of the poor rates, were certainly socialistic, and
the commission that inquired into their working sixty years ago reported
that their worst effect had been to make the labourers such poor workers
that they were hardly worth the wages they got. The men were by law
unable to earn more if they worked more, or to lose anything if they
worked less, and so their very working powers drooped and withered. As
most modern socialists put their trust entirely in the old motive of
self-interest, and propose to pay every man according to his work, their
only resource against such a result would be a stern system of poor-law
administration, like the English, and that would of course involve a
departure from their favourite ideal of furnishing the dependent poor
with as decent and comfortable a living as the independent poor gain for
themselves by their work. The change from Samoa to rural England is
probably not so great as the change from rural England to Brook Farm and
the other experimental communities of the United States, companies of
cultivated and earnest people, coming from one of the best civilized
stocks, and settling under the favourable material conditions of a new
country for the very purpose of working out a socialist ideal. Yet in
these American communities, socialistic institutions led to precisely
the same results as they did in England and in Samoa, a slackening of
industry, and a deterioration of the general level of comfort. No doubt,
as Horace Greeley said, who knew these communities well, and lived for a
time in more than one of them, there came to them along with the lofty
souls, who are willing to labour and endure, "scores of whom the world
is quite worthy, the conceited, the crotchety, the selfish, the
headstrong, the pugnacious, the unappreciated, the played-out, the idle,
the good-for-nothing generally, who, finding themselves utterly out of
place, and at a discount in the world as it is, rashly conclude that
they are exactly fitted for the world as it ought to be." But the
proportion of difficult subjects would not be larger in Brook Farm or
New Harmony than it is in the ordinary world outside, and in these
communities they would be under the constant influence of leaders of
the highest character and an almost religious enthusiasm. If the new and
better economic motives, which romantic socialists like Mr. Bellamy
always assure us are to carry us to such great things as soon as the
suppression of the present pecuniary motive allows them to rise into
operation--if the love of work for its own sake, the sense of public
duty, the desire of public appreciation, could be expected to prevail
anywhere to any purpose, it would be among the gifted and noble spirits
who founded the community of Brook Farm. But the late W. H. Channing,
who was a member of the community and looked back upon it with the
tenderest feelings, explains its failure by saying: "The great evil, the
radical, practical danger, seemed to be a willingness to do work half
thorough, to rest in poor results, to be content amidst comparatively
squalid conditions, and to form habits of indolence."[8]

The idleness of the idle was one of the chief standing troubles in all
the socialistic experiments of the United States. Mr. Noyes gives us an
account of forty-seven communistic experiments which had been made under
modern socialist influences in the United States and had failed, while
Mr. Nordhoff, on the other hand, furnishes a like account of seventy-two
communities, established mainly under religious influences (fifty-eight
of them belonging to the Shakers alone), which have been not merely
social but economic successes, some of them for more than a hundred
years; and one is struck with the degree in which the idler difficulty
has contributed to the failure of the forty-seven, and in which the
continual and comparatively successful conflict with that difficulty by
means of their peculiar system of religious discipline has aided in the
success of the other seventy-two. Mr. Noyes is himself founder of the
Oneida community, and bases his descriptions of the rest on information
supplied by men who were members of the communities he describes, or on
the materials collected by Mr. Macdonald, a Scotch Owenite, who visited
most of the American communities for the purpose of describing them. No
causes of failure are more often mentioned by him than "too many
idlers" and "bad management." Not that industry was relaxed all round.
On the contrary, it seems to have been a peculiarity of the Owenite and
Fourierist communities, that the industrious wrought much harder (and in
most of them for much poorer fare) than labourers of ordinary life.
Macdonald was surprised at the marvellous industry he saw as he watched
them, and would say to himself: "If you fail, I will give it up, for
never did I see men work so well and so brotherly with each other." But
then a little way off he would come on people who "merely crawled about,
probably sick (he charitably suggests), just looking on like myself at
anything which fell in their way." A very common feeling among members
of these communities seems to have been that they were far more troubled
with idlers than the rest of the world, because their system itself
presented special attractions to that unwelcome class. "Men came," says
one of the Trumbull Phalanx, "with the idea that they could live in
idleness at the expense of the purchasers of the estate, and their ideas
were practically carried out, while others came with good heart for the
work." The same testimony is given about the Sylvania Association. "Idle
and greedy people," says the writer of this testimony, "find their way
into such attempts, and soon show forth their character by burdening
others with too much labour, and in times of scarcity supplying
themselves with more than their allowance of various necessaries,
instead of taking less." Idle and greedy people, no doubt, did get into
these communities, but these idle and greedy people constitute, I fear,
a very large proportion of mankind, and the point is that socialistic
institutions unfortunately offer them encouragement and opportunity. The
experience of American communism directly contradicts John Stuart Mill's
opinion, that men are not more likely to evade their fair share of the
work under a socialistic system than they are now. That difficulty in
one form or another was their constant vexation. The members of Owen's
community at Yellow Springs belonged in general to a superior class; but
one of them, in stating the causes of the failure of that community,
says: "The industrious, the skilful, and the strong saw the products of
their labour enjoyed by the indolent, and the unskilled, and the
improvident, and self-love rose against benevolence. A band of musicians
insisted that their brassy harmony was as necessary to the common
happiness as bread and meat, and declined to enter the harvest field or
the workshop. A lecturer upon Natural Science insisted upon talking only
while others worked. Mechanics whose day's labour brought two dollars
into the common stock insisted that they should in justice work only
half as long as the agriculturist, whose day's work brought only one."
The same evil, according to R. D. Owen, contributed to the fall of New
Harmony; "there was not disinterested industry," he says, "there was not
mutual confidence." A lady who was a member of the Marlboro' Association
in Ohio, a socialistic experiment that lasted four years and then
failed, attributes the failure to "the complicated state of the business
concerns, the amount of debt contracted, and the feeling that each would
work with more energy, for a time at least, if thrown upon his own
resources, with plenty of elbow-room, and nothing to distract his

The magnitude of this difficulty only appears the greater when we turn
from the forty-seven socialistic experiments which have failed to the
seventy-two which have thriven. The Shakers and Rappists are undoubtedly
very industrious people, who, by producing a good article, have won and
kept for years a firm hold of the American market, and being, in
consequence of their institution of celibacy, a community of adult
workers exclusively, every man and every woman being a productive
labourer, the wonder is they are not wealthier and more prosperous even
than they are. Their economic prosperity is based, as economic
prosperity always is and must be, on their general habits of industry,
and the natural tendency of socialistic arrangements to relax these
habits is in their case effectually, though not without difficulty,
counteracted by their religious discipline. Idleness is a sin; next to
disobedience to the elders, no other sin is more reprobated among them,
because no other sin is at once so besetting and so dangerous there, and
the conquest and suppression of idleness is a continual object of their
vigilance, and of their ordinary devotional practice. Mr. Nordhoff
publishes a few of their most popular hymns, and one is struck with the
space the cultivation of personal industry seems to occupy in their
thoughts. "Old Slug," as they delight to nickname the idler, is the "Old
Adam" of the Shakers, and a public sentiment of hatred and contempt for
the indolent man is sedulously fostered by them. As they not only work,
but also live under one another's constant supervision, and within
earshot of one another's criticism, they more than replace the eye of
the master by the keener and more sleepless eye of moral and social
police. And if all this discipline fails, they have the last resource of
expulsion. They easily make the idler too uncomfortable to remain. "They
have," says Mr. Nordhoff, "no difficulty in sloughing off persons who
come with bad or low motives." They exercise, in short, the power of
dismissal, the last sanction in ordinary use in the old state of
society. Not that they make any virtue of strenuous labour. They work
moderately, and avoid anything like fatigue or exhaustion. They frankly
acknowledged to Mr. Nordhoff, once and again, that three hired men taken
in from the ordinary world would do as much work as five or six of their
members. Their wants are few and simple, and they are satisfied with the
moderate exertion that suffices to supply them; but they will tolerate
no shirking of that in any shape or form, and this alone saves them from
disaster. The experiences of these successful Shaker and Rappist
communities serve, therefore, to show, even better than the experiences
of the unsuccessful Owenite and Fourierist communities, the gravity that
the idleness difficulty would assume in a general socialistic _régime_,
which possessed nothing in the nature of the power of dismissal, and in
which we could not calculate either on the formation of an effective
public opinion against idleness, or on its effective application if it
were formed. The men who founded the unsuccessful communities were far
superior to the Shakers in business ability and education, and they had
more money to begin their experiments with, but where they failed the
Shakers have succeeded through the indirect economic effects of their
rigorous religious discipline. But the evidence is as plain in the one
case as in the other as to the natural, and even powerful, effect of
socialistic arrangements in relaxing the industry of many sorts and
conditions of men.

The same sources of evidence prove with equal clearness the development
under socialistic institutions of two other concurrent causes of
decline. I have already quoted Mr. Channing's statement that the Brook
Farm community showed a disposition to be content with comparatively
squalid conditions of life. Mr. Nordhoff would probably not use the word
squalid of anything he saw in the Shaker and Rappist communities he
describes, except perhaps in certain instances of the state of the
public streets; and in some points, such as the scrupulous cleanness of
the interior of their houses, he would set them far above their
neighbours--you could eat your dinner, he says, off their floors. Still
the people he found everywhere content, if not exactly with squalid,
certainly with poor and dull and rough conditions of life, much poorer,
duller, and rougher than they might easily be. They enjoyed equality,
security from harassing anxiety for the morrow, abundance even for their
limited wants, independence from subjection to a master, but they were
weak in the ordinary springs of progress. The spirit of material
improvement was not much abroad among them. Give me the stationary state
of society and contentment, you may exclaim; but then even this
stationary state is only maintained in these sequestered communities by
the constant play of peculiar religious influences which cannot be
counted on everywhere, and it would soon change into a declining state
in the great seething world outside if it were not effectively
counter-worked by the most powerful incentives to progress. Now the same
equalizing social arrangements which destroy one of the most essential
of these incentives by guaranteeing men the results of industry without
its exertion, enfeeble a second by predisposing them to rest content
with the lower conditions of life to which they are reduced.

A third cause of decline to which the American experience shows
socialistic institutions to be incident is a certain weakness in the
management, produced sometimes by divided counsels, sometimes by the
delay involved in getting the sanction of a Board to every little detail
of business, and sometimes by a difficulty which we find also
shattering similar experiments in France, that men were raised to the
Committee by their gifts of persuasion rather than their gifts of
administration. Well-meaning persons, with a great itch for managing
things, and a great turn for bungling them, for whom there is, under the
present order of society, a considerable safety-valve in philanthropy,
contrive in a socialistic community to get appointed on the Council of
Industry, and play sad havoc with the common good. While they preached
and wasted, the really practical men who, with better power of talk,
might have confounded them, could only sulk and grumble, and eventually
lost heart in their work, and all interest and confidence in the
concern. This had much to do, according to Mr. Meeker, an old
Fourierist, with the ruin of the North American Phalanx, one of the most
important of the transatlantic experiments, and it was the main cause
apparently of the downfall of the community of Coxsackie--"They had many
persons engaged in talking and law-making who did not work at any useful
employment; the consequences were that after struggling on for between
one and two years the experiment came to an end." A socialist State
would probably have as many difficulties with this bustling but
unsatisfactory class of persons as a socialist Phalanx, nor would the
evils of divided counsels and departmental delays be a whit milder; and
the extension of State management to branches of work for which it had
not otherwise some sort of special natural qualification would have the
same kind of ruinous operation.

In spirit and effect, therefore, as may be palpably seen from these
actual experiments, the equalizing institutions of socialism stand quite
apart from the very restricted use of State management and the remedial
or invigorating legislation that a sound social policy prescribes. When
England is accused of heading the nations in the race of State
socialism, because England has nationalized the post and telegraph
service, and passed a series of factory and agrarian Acts for the
protection of the weaker classes of the people, the accusation is made
without proper discrimination. It is not the frequency of the
intervention, but its purpose and consequences that make it socialistic.
If the post is better managed by the State than by private initiative,
if the factory and agrarian laws merely reinstate weaker classes in the
conditions essential for a normal human life, and neither seek nor
produce that equalization of the differences of fortune or skill which
is fatal to any high and progressive general level of comfort, then
there is no State socialism in it at all. State management is not pushed
beyond the limit of efficiency, nor popular rights beyond the positive
claims of social justice. Let us go a little further into detail.

IV. _State Socialism and State Management._

What are the conditions of efficient State administration? The State
possesses several natural characteristics which give it a decided
advantage as an industrial manager, some for one branch of work, some
for another. It has stability, it has permanency, and it has--what is
perhaps its principal industrial superiority--unrivalled power of
securing unity of administration, since it is the only agency that can
use force for the purpose. On the other hand, it has one great natural
defect, its want of a personal stake in the produce of the business it
conducts, its want of that keen check on waste and that pushing
incentive to exertion which private undertakings enjoy in the eye and
energy of the master. This is the great taproot from which all the usual
faults of Government management spring--its routine, red-tape spirit,
its sluggishness in noting changes in the market, in adapting itself to
changes in the public taste, and in introducing improved methods of
production. Government servants may very generally be men of a higher
stamp and training than the servants of a private company, but they are
proverbial, on the one hand, for a certain lofty disdain of the humble
but valuable virtue of parsimony, and, on the other, for an
unprogressive, unenterprising, uninventive administration of business.

Now the branches of industry which the State is fitted to carry on are
of course those in which its great fault happens to have small scope for
play, and in which its great merit or merits have great scope for play;
those, for example, which gain largely in efficiency or economy by a
centralized administration, and suffer little harm comparatively from a
routine one. That is the reason Governments always manage the postal
service well. In post-office work the specific industrial superiority of
Government carries its maximum of advantage, and its specific industrial
defect does its minimum of injury. The carrying and delivery of letters
from one part of the empire to another require, for efficiency, a single
co-ordinated system, and, on the other hand, those operations themselves
are of so unvariable and routine a character that little harm is done by
their being carried on in a routine spirit; they involve so little
capital expenditure--the entire capital of the department in England is
only £80,000--that the opportunity for waste and corruption is slight;
and being conducted much more largely under the public eye than the
affairs of other departments of State, they are consequently subject to
the constant and interested criticism of the people whose wants they are
meant to satisfy. The same reason explains why Government dockyards and
arms factories are always managed so unsatisfactorily. There is, on the
one hand, no need in them for any higher unity of administration than is
wanted in any ordinary single business establishment; but, on the other,
progressiveness and adaptability are of the first moment, routine and
obstruction to improvement being indeed among their worst dangers. Then
the risk of prodigality and corruption is high, for their capital
expenditure is great, and the check of public criticism very distant and
ineffectual. So exceptional a business is the post, that the telegraphs,
though managed by the same department, have never been managed with the
same success. They were bought at first at a ransom, they have involved
an increasing loss nearly ever since, and the public have to pay
practically as much for their telegrams--perhaps more--than the public
of the United States pay to their telegraph companies. Even in the
postal department, Government administration shows the usual official
slowness in adopting much-needed and even lucrative reforms. Of this, a
good example occurred only the other day. It was not until a Boys'
Messenger Company was already in the field and doing the work, that the
Postmaster-General was brought to recognise, as he said, "the
desirability of providing a more rapid means of transmitting single
letters for short distances and under special circumstances than at
present exists."

It ought of course to be acknowledged that State management in England
is tried under the very worst possible conditions, inasmuch as it is
tied to the fortunes and exigencies of political party. No business
could be expected to thrive where the supreme control is placed in the
hands of a good parliamentary debater, who knows nothing about the
special work of the department he undertakes; where, even at that, this
inexperienced hand is changed for another inexperienced hand every three
or four years; where policy shifts without continuity, to dodge the
popular breeze of to-day, or to catch the popular breeze of to-morrow;
and where the actual incumbent of office, is always able to evade
censure by throwing the responsibility on his predecessors, who are out
of office. Well may a sagacious man like Mr. Samuel Laing, with large
experience of administration both in the affairs of State and of private
companies, exclaim: "I often think what the result would be if the
railway companies managed their affairs on the same principles as the
nation applies to its naval and military expenditure. Suppose the
Brighton Board were turned out every three years, and a new Board came
in with new views and a new policy, and new men at the head of the
locomotive, traffic, and other spending departments, how long would it
be before expenses went up and dividends down?" If State management is
to succeed--if it is to have fair play--it must be entirely divorced
from party fortunes, while subject, of course, to the criticism of
Parliament, under some system like that adopted in Victoria for the
management of the railways. In such circumstances the question of the
advisability of Government assuming the management of any industry, is a
question of balancing the probable gains from the greater unity of the
administration against the probable losses from its greater inertia.

There are some exceptional branches of industry in which Government does
better than private persons, because private persons have too little
interest to do the work well, or even to do it at all, and there are
others in which the State's very want of personal interest is its
advantage instead of its drawback. Forestry is the best example of the
first sort. One generation must plant, and another cut down, so that the
present owner is often unwilling to incur the expense of a speculation
of which he is unlikely to live to reap the fruits; but the natural
permanence of the State leads it to do more justice to this important
branch of production, and experience everywhere shows that State forests
are more productive than private ones. In Prussia and Belgium they are
nearly twice as productive. The average annual produce of all forests in
Prussia (including State forests) is 0.36 thaler per Morgen, but the
produce of State forests alone is 0.66 thaler per Morgen. In Belgium the
produce of all forests is 19.33 francs per hectare, and of State forests
34.42 francs.[9] The erection of lighthouses is also a public service,
which falls to the State because of individual inability; it cannot be
undertaken in any way to make it remunerative to private adventurers.

The best example of an industrial work for which the State's want of
personal interest is its advantage is the Mint. Nobody would trust the
stamp of a private assayer as he trusts the stamp of the Government,
because the private assayer could never succeed in placing his personal
disinterestedness so absolutely above the suspicion of fraud. The policy
of the official attestation of the quality of commodities is often
disputed on the ground that it discourages improvement above the pass
standard, but it is never doubted that if a brand is wanted, the brand
to command most confidence is the brand of the Crown. Our own
Government, out of the infinity of commodities offered for sale, attests
none but six--butter, herrings, plate, gun barrels, chains, and
anchors--articles in which the dangers of deterioration probably exceed
the chances of improvement, and in the case of some of these six there
is a strong feeling abroad that the State's intervention is doing more
harm than good. Scotch herrings have suffered lately in the German
markets, because they were worse cured than the Norwegian, and the
herring brand was blamed for the unprogressiveness of the cure. This
class of interventions, therefore, is neither numerous now, nor likely
to become very numerous in the future.

A more important class of undertakings in which the State's industrial
advantage lies in its superiority to the temptations of self-interest,
is that of industries which naturally assume something of the character
of a monopoly, and in which self-interest lacks both the check on its
rapacity, and the spur to its activity supplied by effective
competition. It is true of more things than railways that when
combination is possible, competition is impossible, and the growth of
syndicates, trusts and pooling arrangements at the present day has led
to considerable agitation for State interference, especially in the case
of commodities like salt and coal, which are necessaries of life. Our
experience of these things is as yet limited, but so far as it has gone
it seems to show that the public dangers dreaded from them are apt to be
exaggerated. The combinations fear to raise the price to the public so
high as to provoke competition, and in most cases in America have not
raised it at all, drawing their advantage rather from the reduction in
expense of management, and the saving of capital; and the State would
not be likely to manage industries producing for the markets any better
than, or even so well as, the more keenly interested board of private
directors. But if the balance of evidence seems against public
management in this class of monopolies, it stands, I think, decidedly in
favour of public management in another and not unimportant class. The
gas and water supply of towns is a monopoly, and though the point is not
undisputed, it appears to answer better on the whole in public than in
private hands, because the management has no interest to serve except
the interest of the public. Experience has not been everywhere the same,
but usually it has been that under municipal control the quality of the
gas has been improved and the price reduced. But this is municipal
management of course, not State management, and the difference is
material, inasmuch as municipal management, in the case of gas and water
supply, is the management of the production of things of general
consumption under the direct control of the very people who consume
them, so that it is constantly exposed to effective public criticism,
perhaps as good a substitute as things admit of for the eye of the
master. The natural defect of public management is so mitigated by this
circumstance, that probably of all forms of public management, municipal
management is the best, and when applied to branches of production that
tend to become monopolies at any rate, it answers well. The question is
entirely different with proposals that are sometimes made for converting
into municipal monopolies branches of production--such, for example, as
the bread supply of the community--which are carried on by individual
management under effective competition. To do as well as joint-stock
management uncontrolled by competition is one thing; to do as well as
individual management subject to competition is another; and so long as
public management replaces nothing but the former class of enterprises,
which are in any case a sort of natural monopolies, it will never
contract the vast field of individual enterprise to any very serious

When we pass from municipal monopolies to State monopolies, the problem
becomes more grave. The two largest current proposals of this kind are
those of land nationalization and railway nationalization. The former
proposal, though much more noisily advocated than the other, has
incomparably the weaker case. For apart altogether from the mischief of
making every rent settlement a political question, and looking at the
matter merely in its economic aspect, land, of all things, is that which
is least suited for centralized administration, and yields its best
results under the minute concentrated supervision of individual and
occupying ownership. The magic of property is now a proverbial phrase;
it is truer of land than anything else, and it merely means that for
land interested administration is everything, comprehensive
administration nothing, that the zeal of the resident owner to improve
his own land knows no limit, whereas the obstructive forces of routine
and official inertia have nowhere more power to blight than in land
management. In Adam Smith's time, as he mentions in the "Wealth of
Nations," the Crown lands were everywhere the least productive lands in
their respective countries, and the experience is the same still. It is
so even in Prussia, in spite of its economical and skilled bureaucracy.
Professor Roscher says it is a common remark in Germany that Crown lands
sell for a greater number of years' purchase than other lands, because
they are known to be less improved, and are therefore expected to yield
better results to the energy of the purchaser, and he quotes official
figures for 1857, showing that the domain land of Prussia had not risen
in value so much as the other land in the country. Great expectations
are often entertained from the unearned increment, though there is not
likely to be much of that in agricultural land for years to come; but
what is a much more important consideration for the community is the
earned increment, and under State management the earned increment would
infallibly decline. Of course, this does not exclude the necessity of
strict State control, so far as required by justice, humanity, and the
growth and comfort of the general community. Under land nationalization
here I have not considered schemes which do not give the State any real
ownership in the land more than it at present enjoys, or, at any rate,
place no real management of the land in its hands. The rival schemes of
Mr. A. R. Wallace and Mr. Henry George are really only more or less
objectionable methods of increasing the land-tax.

The question of a State railway is not so easily determined. There are
certainly few branches of business where unity of administration is more
advantageous, or where the public would benefit more from affairs being
conducted from the public point of view of developing the greatest
amount of gross traffic, instead of from the private point of view of
making the greatest amount of net profit. A railway differs from other
enterprises, because it affects all others very seriously for good or
ill; it may for the sake of more profit give preferences that are
hurtful to industrial development, or deny facilities that are essential
to it. A private company may find it more profitable to carry a less
quantity at a high rate than a greater quantity at a low, and it cannot
be expected to run a line that does not pay, though the general
community might benefit greatly more by the increase of traffic which
the line creates than covers the loss incurred by running it. Now it is
impossible to exaggerate the importance of having a public work like a
railway, which can help or hinder every trade in the land, conducted
from a public point of view instead of a private, and the present
discussion in this country on rates and fares points to the desirability
of changes to which private companies are not likely to resort of their
own accord, nor the railway commission to be able to compel them. But,
on the other hand, it is equally impossible to exaggerate the risks of
the undertaking. The post office, with its capital of £80,000, is a
plaything to the railways with their capital of £800,000,000, and their
revenue little short of that of the State itself. The operations are of
a most varied nature, and only some of them could be exposed to
effective criticism. The mere transaction of purchase excites in many
minds a not unreasonable fear. If Government made a bad bargain with the
telegraph companies, it would be sure to make a worse with the railway
companies, who are fifty times more powerful; and besides, it would very
likely have to borrow its money at a higher figure, for though it could
borrow two millions at 3 per cent., it could not therefore borrow eight
hundred millions, for the simple reason that the number of people who
want 3 per cent. is limited, most holders of stock preferring
investments which, though more risky, offer a prospect of more gain. If
in trying to balance these weighty _pros_ and equally weighty _cons_ one
turns to the experience of State railways, he will find that as yet it
affords few very sure or decisive data, because it varies in the
different countries and times, and has been very differently

Of the Continental State railways, those of Belgium and Germany are
usually counted the most favourable examples. But Mr. Hadley, in his
excellent work on Railway Transportation, shows that the State lines of
Belgium were conducted in an extremely slovenly, perfunctory way until
1853, when private lines began to increase and compete with them, and
that though the low rates which this competition was the means of
introducing still remain after the private lines have been largely
bought out, there has been, on the other hand, latterly a decline in the
profits of the State system, an increasing tendency to slackness and
inertia in the management, and growing complaints of creating posts to
reward political services, and manipulating accounts to suit Government
exigencies. In Germany the rates are certainly low and the management
economical, but complaints are made that less is done for the
encouragement of the national resources, and unprofitable traffic is
more severely declined than by the private railways. On the whole,
probably the best State railway system is that of Victoria; charging low
rates, self-supporting, offering every encouragement to industrial
development; and the opinion of England will probably be largely
determined by further observation of that experiment.

The sister colony of New Zealand has made a successful experiment in
another department of industrial enterprise, life insurance, for which
Government management indeed is highly adapted, because, in the first
place, it is a business in which absolute security is of the last
consequence, and there is no security like Government guarantee; and in
the second, it is a business in which the calculations of the whole
administration are virtually matters of mechanical routine. The
Government office was only opened in 1871, under the influence of a
widespread distrust of private offices, caused by recent bankruptcies,
and it now transacts one-third of the life insurance business of the
colony; it has probably tended to encourage life insurance, for while
there are only 26 policies per 1000 of population in the United Kingdom,
there are 80 per 1000 in New Zealand, and its management is much cheaper
than that of any other insurance company in the colony, except the
Australian United. The proportion of expenses to revenue in the
Australian United is 13.66 per cent., in the Government Office 17.23,
and in none of the other companies (whose gross business, however, is
much smaller) is it under 43.02.

Adam Smith thought there were only four branches of enterprise which
were fitted to be profitably conducted by a joint-stock company. We have
seen in our day almost every branch of industry conducted by such
companies, and an idea is often expressed that whatever a joint-stock
company can do, Government can do at least quite as well, because the
defect of both is the same. The defect is the same, but Government has
it in larger measure. Joint-stock management is certainly much less
productive in most industries than private management. The Report of the
Massachusetts Labour Bureau for 1878 contains some curious statistics on
the subject. There were then in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
10,395 private manufacturing establishments, employing in all 166,588
persons, and 520 joint-stock manufacturing establishments, employing
101,337 persons, and the private establishments, while they paid a much
higher average rate of wages than the joint-stock, produced at the same
time not far from twice as much for the capital invested. The average
wages per head in the private establishments was 474.37 dollars a year,
and in the joint-stock was 383.47 dollars a year; while the produce per
dollar of capital was 2.58 dollars' worth in the private, and 1.37
dollars' worth in the joint-stock, and though part of this difference is
attributed to the circumstance that private manufacturers sometimes hire
their factories and companies do not, the substance of it is believed to
be due to the inferiority of the joint-stock management. Anyhow, that
circumstance could have no influence in producing the very marked
difference in the wages given by the two classes of enterprise, and the
higher wages would not, and could not, be given unless the production
was higher. If all the industries of the country, then, were put under
joint-stock management, the result would be (1) a general reduction in
the amount produced, and (2) a consequent reduction in the general
remuneration of the working classes, and the general level of natural
comfort; and the result would be still worse under universal Government
management. One of the labourer's greatest interests is efficient
management, and if he suffers from the replacement of individual
employers by joint-stock companies, he would suffer much more by the
replacement of both by the State, excepting only in those few
departments of business for which the State happens to possess peculiar
advantages and aptitude.

V. _State Socialism and Popular Right._

The limits of the legitimate intervention of the public authority with
respect to the moral development of the community are prescribed by a
different rule from those with respect to its material development.
Efficiency is still, indeed, a governing consideration, for perhaps more
measures for popular improvement fail from sheer ineffectuality than
from any other reason. The history of social reform is strewn thick with
these dead-letter measures. There is a cry and a lamentation, and a
feeling that something must be done; and an Act of Parliament is passed
containing injunctions which no Act of Parliament can enforce, or which
address themselves to mere accidental circumstances, and leave the real
causes of the evil entirely unaffected. And there would be no
impropriety in describing impracticable or ill-directed legislation of
this kind as being socialistic, for, besides the old association of
socialism with impracticable schemes, impracticable legislation is
always unjust legislation, and unjust legislation for behoof of the
labouring class is essentially socialistic. Every State interference
necessarily involves a certain restriction of the liberty or other
general rights of some class of persons; and although this restriction
would be perfectly justifiable if it actually secured the prior or more
urgent right of another and perhaps much more numerous class of persons,
it is injustice, and nothing but injustice, when it merely hurts the
former class without doing any good to the latter. It may hurt both
classes even--well-meaning meddling often does; but what I desire to
bring out here is that labour legislation, which may have been entirely
just and free from socialism in its intention, may be unjust and full of
socialism in its result. We may therefore, without any fault, include
under the head of State socialism that common sort of proposal which,
without urging any wrong claim, merely asks the State to do the wrong
thing--to do either something it cannot do at all, or something that
will not answer the purpose intended. It is socialistic not because it
is impracticable, but because it is unjust.

Since well-meant legislation may thus become urgent, and therefore
socialistic for want of result, it is plain that the efficiency of the
intervention is a very important consideration in determining the
State's duty with respect to popular rights. But the primary
consideration here is the extent of the moral claim which the
individual, by reason of his weakness, has upon the resources of
society, and it is upon that consideration that the division of
conflicting political theories on the subject turns. All the several
theories are agreed that the enlargement of popular rights, when the
enlargement is required by a just popular claim, is entirely within the
proper and natural province of the State; where they differ, and differ
seriously, is partly in their views of the justice of particular
elements in the popular claim of the time being, but more especially in
their whole conception of the nature and extent of the popular claim in
general. There are still some persons to be found contending that there
are no such things as natural rights, and there are plenty who cannot
hear the words without a sensation of alarm. But it is now generally
admitted, even by those who adopt the narrowest political theories, that
legal rights are merely the ratification of moral rights already
existing, and that the creation of new legal rights for securing the
just aspirations of ill-protected classes of the people belongs to the
ordinary daily duties of all civil government. Mr. Spencer very readily
admits that some of the latest constituted rights in this country--the
new seamen's right of the Merchant Shipping Act, and the new women's
right of the Married Women's Property Act--are perfectly justifiable for
the prevention in the one case of seamen being fraudulently betrayed
into unseaworthy ships, and in the other of women being robbed of their
own personal earnings. But then the new rights which he would most
condemn--the right to public assistance, the right to education, the
right to a habitable dwelling, the right to a fair rent--are quite as
susceptible of justification on the ground of natural justice as either
the right to a seaworthy ship or the right to one's own earnings. Mr.
Spencer's theory errs by unduly contracting men's natural claim. They
have a right to more than equal freedom; they have a right, to use
Smith's phrase, to an undeformed and unmutilated humanity, to that
original basis of human dignity which it is the business of organized
society to defend for its weaker members against the assaults of fortune
as well as the assaults of men. That is what I have called, for the sake
of distinction, the English theory of social politics. On the other
hand, socialism unduly extends this claim. The right to fair wages is
one thing; the State could not realize it, but it at least represents no
unjust aspiration; but the right to an equal dividend of the national
income, claimed by utopian socialists, including Mr. Bellamy at the
present day, and the right to the full produce of labour claimed by the
revolutionary socialists, and meaning, as explained by them, the right
to the entire product of labour and capital together, are really rights
to unfair wages, and the whole objection to them is that they are at
variance with social justice. If we keep these distinctions in view, we
shall be able to discriminate between interventions of authority which
are innocent, and interventions which are tainted with State socialism.
Take an illustration or two, 1st, of interventions for settling the
claims of the poor in society in general, and 2nd, of interventions for
adjusting the differences between one class and another, between
employer and labourer, between landlord and tenant, and the like.

1. Under the first head, the most important question is the question of
public assistance. Prince Bismarck created a considerable European
sensation when he first announced his new social policy in 1884, by
declaring in favour of the three claims of labour, which have been so
commonly regarded as the very alpha and omega of social revolution--the
right to existence for the infirm, the right to labour for the
able-bodied, and the right to superannuation for the aged. "Give the
labourer," he said, "the right to labour when he is able-bodied; give
him the right to relief when he is sick; give him the right to
maintenance when he is old; and if you do so--if you do not shrink from
the sacrifice, and do not cry out about State socialism whenever the
State does anything for the labourer in the way of Christian
charity--then I believe you will destroy the charm of the Wyden (_i.e._,
Social Democratic) programme." These three rights are really two, the
right of relief when one is sick and of maintenance when one is old
being only different phases of the right to existence. Now the right to
existence and the right to labour are in themselves both perfectly just
claims, but the construction Prince Bismarck gave them passed decidedly
over into State socialism.

The right to existence is seldom called in question. Malthus, it is
true, said a man had a right to live only as he had a right to live a
hundred years--_if he could_. He might as well have argued that a man
had a right to escape murder only as he had a right to escape murder for
a hundred years--_if he could_. It is really because he cannot that he
has the right--it is because he cannot protect himself against violence
that he has a right to protection from the State, and because, and as
far as, he cannot protect himself against starvation that he has a just
claim upon the State for food. And his claim is obviously bounded in the
one case as in the other by the ability of society. If society cannot
protect him, it is of course absurd to talk of any right to its
protection, but if society can, society ought. To suffer a
fellow-citizen to die of hunger is felt by a civilized community to be
at least as just a disgrace to its government as it would be to leave
him a prey to the knife of the assassin, or to the incursions of
marauders from over the enemy's border. But as the State furnishes
protection against human violence by its courts of justice, and against
disease by its sanitary laws, so it furnishes protection against famine
and indigence by its legal provision of relief. The claim of the
perishing stands on the same footing as any other claim which is an
admitted right of man to-day; it is a claim to an essential condition of
normal manhood--to existence itself. But then, if the right to existence
must be admitted, it can only be admitted where the individual is, for
whatever reason, unable to make provision for himself, and it can only
be admitted in such measure and form as will not discourage other
individuals from trying to make independent provision for themselves
before their day of disability comes, because that, in turn, is the way
prescribed by normal manhood and true human dignity.

What State socialists claim, however, is not the right to existence, but
the right to decent and comfortable existence--the right to the style of
living which is customary among the independent poor. The labourer
ought, in their eyes, to be treated as a public servant, and his sick
pay and his pension ought both to be commensurate with the claims and
dignity of honest labour. Now it is of course impossible not to
sympathize much with this view, but the difficulty is that if you make
assisted labour as good as independent labour, you shall soon have more
assisted labour than you can manage, you shall have weakened the push,
energy, and forethought of your labouring class, you shall have really
done much to destroy that very dignity of labour which you desire to
establish. The State may probably, with great advantage, do more for
working-class insurance than it at present does. It could conduct the
business of the burial benefit and the superannuation benefit better
than any private company or friendly society, because it could offer a
surer guarantee and the business is routine; Mr. Gladstone's excellent
annuity scheme has remained sterile only because it has not been pushed,
and the canvasser and collector are indispensable in working-class
insurance. But the socialist proposal is that the State ought to give
every man a pension after a certain age, irrespectively altogether of
his own contributions. Mr. Webb is one of its most recent advocates,
and, according to the useful figures he has taken the trouble to obtain,
there are in the United Kingdom 1,700,000 persons over sixty-five years
of age, of whom 1,300,000 contrive to pension themselves, either by
their own savings or the assistance of their families, while the
remaining 400,000 are supported by the rates at an average cost of ten
guineas a year. Mr. Webb's proposal is that in order to save the
feelings of the 400,000 dependants you are to make the other 1,300,000
persons dependants along with them, and give ten guineas a year all
round. But you cannot make a public dole a pension by merely calling it
a pension. A pension is a payment made by one's actual employer for work
done--it is wages, and the man who has earned his own pension, or has
provided it by his own saving, feels himself and is an independent man.
It is right to maintain the 400,000--whether out of national or
parochial funds is a detail--but sound policy would rather aim at
raising the 400,000 to be as the 1,300,000, than at lowering the
1,300,000 to the level of the 400,000. With Mr. Webb it is not a
question of giving the 400,000 better allowances than they receive at
present--which might be most reasonably entertained--but it is a mere
question of not suffering them to be looked down on by the 1,300,000 who
have fought their own way, and that is not possible, nor, with all
respect for them, is it, from a public point of view, desirable. It is
right to support those who cannot support themselves, but it is neither
right nor wise to remove all distinction between the dependent poor and
the independent.

But the line between State socialism and sound social politics in the
matter of public assistance may perhaps be better shown in another
branch of Poor Law administration--the right to labour for the
able-bodied. The socialist right to labour is the right of the
unemployed to get labour in their own trades and at good or current
rates of wages. That is the right which Bismarck substantially admitted
in his famous speech. He said there was a crowd of suitable undertakings
which the State could establish to furnish the unemployed with a fair
day's wage for a fair day's work. It is also practically the right which
prevailed in England between 1782, when Gilbert's Act abolished the old
workhouse test, and 1835, when the new Poor Law restored it. Gilbert's
Act gave the able-bodied poor the right (1) to obtain from the guardians
work near their own residence and suited to their respective strength
and capacity; (2) to receive for their labour all the money earned by
it; and (3) if that sum fell short of their requirements, to have the
difference made up out of the parochial funds. The effect of that, as we
know, was, that public relief became too desirable, the dependants on it
multiplied, the poor rate rose, the wages of labour fell, the very
efficiency of the labourer himself withered, and the new Poor Law
reverted to the workhouse test, which, harsh though it was considered to
be, was in reality a necessary defence of the character and comfort of
the labouring class from further decadence.

To provide the unemployed with work in their own trades is only to
increase the evil you wish to remedy, for the very existence of the
unemployed shows that those particular trades are slack at the time,
that there is no demand for the articles they produce, and consequently
any attempt by the State to throw fresh supplies of these articles on
the already over-stocked market can have no other effect than to
increase the depression and turn out of employ the men that are still at
work. Paying relief work at the common market rate of wages is attended
with the same objection. The remedy only aggravates the disease, and
what ought to be merely the labourer's temporary resource against
adversity tends to grow into his regular staff of life. Relief wages,
while sufficient for the family's support, should remain below the
current rates so as to give the labourer an effective inducement to seek
better employment as soon as better employment can possibly be obtained.
The true and natural defence against misfortune is the man's own
personal exertion and provision, and the purpose of the public
intervention is to stimulate and assist, not to supplant, that _vis
medicatrix naturæ_.

But under these limitations a right to labour is a just claim of the
unfortunate. It is admitted in the English Poor Law, and it is admitted
in the Scotch parochial practice, which constructively considers want of
employment a form of sickness or accident, and it requires in both
countries to be better realized than it is. 1st: although it is
unadvisable to give every man work at his own trade, and although the
choice of trades for relief purposes is attended with as much difficulty
as the choice of those for prison labour is found to be, yet certainly
the circle of relief trades ought to be extended beyond stone-breaking
and oakum-picking. Socialists themselves are among the foremost in
complaining of the competition of prison labour with honest labour,
although they fail to see that precisely the same objection attends the
competition of relieved labor in public workshops with unrelieved labour
in regular private employment. The kind of work most free from objection
on this score would probably be the production of articles now imported
from abroad, and there are a great many trades in which, while we make
most of their products at home, we import particular articles or sorts
of articles for one reason or another. Some of these might be found
suitable for the purpose in view. Or the men in the public workshops
might be employed in making a variety of things used in public offices,
imperial or local. 2nd: what is even more important, a distinction ought
to be made between the industrious poor and that residuum of confirmed
failures for whom the stoneyard test is really intended, and the former
ought not to be made to feel themselves any way degraded in their work,
their small remuneration being trusted to act as a sufficient preventive
against their permanent dependence on the public for employment. 3rd:
then a third and most important requisite is to supplement the public
provision of work with a public provision of information about the
demand for labour over the country from day to day, so as not merely to
support the men in adversity, but to facilitate their restoration to
their normal condition of prosperity.

For we ought to recognise that though the problem of the unemployed is
not, as many persons imagine, one of increasing gravity in our
time--although, on the contrary, if we go back thirty years, sixty
years, or a hundred years, we always find worse complaints and more
distressing sufferings from that cause than at present, yet it is
certainly a constant problem. The unemployed we have always with us, and
even their numbers vary less from time to time than we are apt to
suppose. Trades dependent on fine weather are, of course, slack in
winter, but then trades dependent on fashion are slack in summer, while
there are some large trades--such as the shoemakers--that are made brisk
by bad weather. Even a general commercial crisis which throws the
workpeople of many trades idle, makes those of others busy. The building
trades are always busy in bad times, because money and labour are then
cheap, and the opportunity is seized of building or extending factories,
and laying down plant of every description. It was so to a very
remarkable extent during the Lancashire cotton distress of 1862; it was
so all over England in the depression of 1877-78, and the same fact was
observed again in Scotland, and commented upon by the factory inspector
in 1886. Other trades are brisker in a crisis for less happy causes,
_e.g._, the bakers for the melancholy reason that the working classes
are more generally driven from meat to bread. These natural corrections
or compensations elicited by the depression itself prevent the numbers
of the unemployed from growing so very much larger in a crisis than in
ordinary times that their case would not be overtaken satisfactorily by
the general systematic provision of relief work, if that were once
established. The excess is met now so effectually by a few special local
efforts, that we have sometimes far fewer able-bodied paupers in bad
years than in good. The number of able-bodied paupers was very much less
in the bad years 1876-1878 than in the good years immediately after
them, or in the still better years immediately before them. The problem
being, then, so largely constant from season to season, and from cycle
to cycle, ought clearly to be solved by a permanent and systematic

The same principle which governs this right to labour--the principle of
preventing degradation and facilitating self-recovery--governs other
social legislation for the unfortunate besides the Poor Law. It lies at
the bottom of the homestead exemptions of America, and our own
prohibition of arrestment of tools and wages for debt, and our
occasional measures for cancelling arrears. It is the principle laid
down by Pitt when he said that no temporary occasion should be suffered
to force a British subject to part with his last shilling. He had a
right to his last shilling, because he had a right to an undegraded
humanity. The last shilling stopped his fall, and perhaps helped him to
rise again.

Many persons will admit the right to public assistance, because it seems
limited to saving men from extremities, who will see nothing but
socialism of a perilous sort in other public provisions, for which
popular claims are advanced. Schools, museums, libraries, parks, open
spaces, footpaths, baths, are certainly means of intellectual and
physical life, which keep the manhood of a community in normal vigour;
but, it will be asked, if the State once begins to supply such things,
where is it to stop? Is free education to go beyond the primary
branches? What length are you to go? is the question Mr. Spencer always
raises as a bar to your going at all. But the same question of degree
can be raised about everything, about the duties Mr. Spencer himself
imposes upon the State as really as about those he refuses to sanction.
In the matter of protection, for instance, how many policemen are we
required to detail to a district? Or how great an army and navy are we
to maintain? During the excitement about the Jack the Ripper murders
there was much clamour about the police being too few, and we are
subject to periodical panics as to our imperial defences, in the course
of which no two persons agree in answering the question, what length are
we to go? The question can only be settled of course by measuring the
length of our necessities with the length of our purse, and the same
class of considerations rules in the other case, the importance and cost
of the given provision to a community of such education and culture,
together with the impossibility of getting it adequately supplied
without public agency. The opinion of the time may vary as to what is
essential for a whole and wholesome manhood, and its resources may vary
as to what may be easily borne to supply it; but the same variation
takes place with respect to the duties of national defence, or the
administration of justice. The objection is therefore nothing more or
less than the very ancient and famous logical fallacy with which the
Greek sophists used to nonplus their antagonists. As in other affairs,
the problem so far will settle itself practically as it goes along, and
the important distinction to bear in mind is that to give every man the
essential conditions of all humane living is a very different kind of
aim from giving every man the same share in the national production, or
a lien on his neighbour's luck or industry or alertness.

2. From rights realizing general claims of the unfortunate on society at
large, let us now pass to rights realizing special claims of certain
weaker classes of society against certain stronger classes. The most
typical examples of this sort of legislation are the intervention of the
State between buyer and seller, between landlord and tenant, between
employer and labourer, for the judicial determination of a fair price, a
fair rent, or fair wages, or for the regulation of the conditions of
labour, and tenure of land. Professor Sidgwick declares the Irish and
Scotch Land Acts, which provide for the judicial determination of a fair
rent, to be the most distinctively socialistic measures the English
Legislature has yet passed; but in reality these Land Acts are not a bit
more socialistic than the laws which fix a fair price for railway rates
and fares, and much less socialistic than the old usury Acts which
sought to determine fair interest. Such interferences with freedom of
contract as these are, of course, only justifiable when the absence of
effective competition places the real power of settlement of terms
practically in the hands of one side alone, and conduces, therefore,
inevitably to the serious injury and oppression of the other. Parliament
controls railway charges because the railway companies enjoy a monopoly
of most important business, and might use their monopoly to wrong the
public, and when Parliament is asked, as it sometimes is, to discourage
corners, rings, syndicates, or pooling combinations, it is on the ground
that these various agencies are attempts, more or less successful, to
exclude competition for the purpose of exacting from the public more
than a fair price. On the other hand, the reason why we have given up
fixing fair interest now is because we have come to see that
competition, being very effective among money-lenders, fixes it far
better for us without the intervention of the law, and, of course, an
unnecessary interference with freedom of contract is nothing but
pernicious. But, although for ordinary commercial loans the competition
of lenders is a sufficient security for the fair treatment of borrowers,
it affords no protection against extortion to the very necessitous man,
who must accept any terms or starve. His poverty leaves him no proper
freedom to make a contract, and the law still condemns oppressive rates
of usury, to which, as the Apothecary says in "Romeo and Juliet," the
poor man's poverty, but not his will, consents. In such a case,
accordingly, an authoritative prescription of fair interest is only a
necessary requirement of justice and humanity.

The public determination of fair rent stands on precisely the same
ground. The rent of large farms, like the interest on ordinary
commercial loans, may be safely left to be settled by commercial
competition, because large farms are taken by men of capital as a
business speculation, and landlords cannot exact more rent than the
farms will bear without driving capital out of agriculture into other
branches of production, and so reducing the demand for that class of
farms to an extent that will bring the rent down to its proper level
again. But the rent of small holdings, like the interest on loans to
persons in extremity, is ruled by other considerations. Cottier tenants,
between their numbers and their necessities, are continually driven into
offering rents the land can never be made to pay, and thereby incurring
for the rest of their days the burden of a lengthening chain of arrears
little better than Oriental debt-slavery. Other work is hard to find;
the land being limited in supply is a natural monopoly; and the State
merely steps in to save the tenantry from the injurious effects of their
own over-competition for an essential instrument of their labour, and,
through their labour, of their very existence. The interference,
therefore, is perfectly justifiable if the machinery it institutes can
carry out the purpose efficiently, and there is this difference between
a court for fixing rent and a court for fixing the price of bread, or
beer, or labour, that it is only doing work which in the natural course
of things is very usually done by periodical and independent valuation,
instead of by the ordinary higgling of the market. It has always been
the custom on many large estates to call in a valuator from the outside
for the revision of the rents, and a valuator appointed by the Crown
cannot be expected to do the work any less effectively than a valuator
appointed by the landlord. Moreover, the tendency of opinion seems to be
towards the simplication of the process by some self-working scheme, a
sliding scale for apportioning an annual rent to the annual production.

State intervention in the determination of the rate of wages is often
proposed either for the purpose of settling trade disputes on the
subject, or for the purpose of suppressing what is called starvation
wages and fixing a legal minimum rate. As for arbitration in trade
disputes, the object is, of course, in no way socialistic, for it is
strictly allied with the ordinary judicial work of the State, and a
public and permanent tribunal would probably answer the purpose much
better than a private and merely occasional one; for even although it
might not be able to enforce its judgments in all cases by compulsion on
the parties, it would be more likely than the other to command their
confidence and secure by its moral authority their voluntary submission,
and this authority would increase with the experience of the court.

In certain cases compulsory arbitration seems to be required. There are
trades in which the public interest may require strikes to be
prohibited, in order to prevent a whole community suffering grave
privations, perhaps being starved of its supply of a necessary of life.
The Trades Union Act imposes express restrictions on combinations among
the labourers at gas and water works, and the recent railway strike in
Scotland, which not only paralyzed trade for a time, but stopped the
supply of coal to whole districts in the middle of the severest winter
of the last part of the century, suggested to many minds the propriety
of similar interference in railway disputes. But if the State interfered
to stop the strike, the State must needs in equity interfere to decide
upon the cause of quarrel. And happily these are the very cases which
are best fitted for compulsory arbitration, because the trades concerned
are not subject to the market fluctuations to which other trades are
liable, and are therefore better suited for fixed settlements of
definite and considerable duration.

But what socialists claim is a universal determination of normal wages,
so as to give every man the full product of his labour, as the full
product of his labour is understood upon their theory. For the present,
however, they are content to ask for at least the establishment of a
legal minimum rate of wages; in fact, an international minimum rate of
wages and an international eight hours working day are the two demands
on which their agitation is in the meantime most strenuously
concentrated. In their recent policy they have reverted to the kind of
remedies they used to speak of with such lofty disdain as mere
palliatives, and have only preserved their separate identity from other
reformers by asking for these palliatives in their least practicable
form. An international compulsory minimum wage is impossible, for even a
national one is so, and that is the only objection, but a very
sufficient one, to the proposal. If you could wipe out starvation wages
by passing an Act of Parliament, let the Act be passed to-morrow, for
starvation wages is surely the worst and most exasperating of all the
enemies of humane living. To starve for want of power to work is bad; to
starve for want of work is worse; but to work and yet starve, to work a
long, long day without obtaining the bread that should be its natural
reward, is a third and worst degree of misfortune, for it mocks the
fitness and equity of things, and seizes the mind like a wrong. If it is
right to suppress starvation by law, it would seem more right still to
suppress starvation wages; and if the socialist contention were in the
least true, that in consequence of the "iron and cruel law" all wages
are starvation wages, and all work sweaters' work, that work and starve
is the inevitable rule under the present system of things, there would
be no good answer to their demand for the abolition of the present
system of things. But as a matter of fact working and starving is the
condition of only exceptional groups of workpeople, and the right to a
minimum wage, in the sense of a wage above starvation point, would have
no bearing on the great majority of the labouring classes, inasmuch as
they stand already on a considerably higher level of remuneration.

Ought the State, however, to fix a legal minimum of wages for the
protection of the exceptional groups of workpeople to whose situation
such a measure might have relation? The objection to this course comes
less from want of justice in the claim than from want of power in the
State to realize it. The fixing of a legal minimum rate of wages is a
task which it is beyond the State's power to accomplish, except by
paying up the minimum out of its own funds; for, though the law fixed a
minimum to-morrow, it could not compel employers to engage workmen at
that minimum; and if employers found it unprofitable to do so, the only
effect of the legislation would be to throw numbers of men out of work,
and make their maintenance at the legal minimum an obligation of the
public treasury. Of the results of paying wages out of the rates we have
had plenty of experience. To suppress starvation wages in this way by
direct statute is merely impossible, however, and there would be no
taint of socialism in it, if it could be done. Much less can the like
objection be made against any milder remedies. The only danger is that
they would not prove effectual, and would address themselves to false
causes. Take the sweating system of the East End of London, in which,
bad conditions of labour always going together, we find starvation wages
combined with long hours and unwholesome work-rooms. Two of the
favourite remedies are the abolition of sub-contracting and the
prohibition of pauper Jewish immigration; but neither of these things is
the cause of sweating. The sweating contractor of the East End is not a
sub-contractor at all; he is the only contractor in the business, and
even if he were a sub-contractor, we know that sub-contractors often pay
far better wages than the chief contractor can, because they know their
men better, and get better work out of them.

A temporary increase in the Jewish immigration may occasion a temporary
aggravation of the difficulty, but the permanent causes lie elsewhere,
and even in the way of aggravation a matter of a thousand Jews more, or
a thousand Jews less, cannot play an all-important part in a system
affecting some hundred thousand workpeople. Sweating is no more incident
to Jewish labour than to English labour. The cheap clothing trade of
Birmingham is certainly in the hands of Jews, yet sweating is--or at
least was when the factory inspector reported in 1879--absolutely
unknown. The wages, he said, were good, the hours were not long, and
there were no overcrowded dens. On the other hand, sweating has not only
been for years endemic in the East End of London, but has even appeared
in a very acute form, apart from any alien influence, in the tailoring
trade in Melbourne, the paradise of working people, as it is sometimes
not unjustly denominated. The sweating there was conducted largely by
ladies who took in bands of learners, and, according to the evidence
before the Shopkeepers' Commission, of 1883, every second house in some
of the suburbs was a shop of that kind. There was an excessive influx of
labour into that trade, because little other work could be found for
women who entertained, as they do generally in that colony, a prejudice
against both factory labour and domestic service. On the other hand,
this overflow was diverted in Birmingham into other channels by the
comparative abundance of light employments the district afforded. But
apart from temporary or local circumstances that serve to aggravate
things or alleviate them, the tailor trade is everywhere naturally
subject beyond all others to over-competition: (1) because the work can
be done at home; (2) because it can be learnt in a few weeks or months
well enough to earn starvation wages in a long day at some sorts of
work; (3) because it needs as little capital for the contractor to start
business as it needs training for the operatives; and (4) because the
operatives being scattered about in their own homes, or in small
workshops here and there, have a natural difficulty in coming to any
concerted action that might otherwise mitigate the effects of the
over-competition, and if there is any general remedy for sweating, it
must deal with these causes. To replace homework by common work in
wholesome workshops, as far as that can be done, might interfere with
what some poor persons found a convenient resource, but would do no harm
to the working class generally. The work it was less convenient for some
to do would be done by others. The change would remove at once one of
the evils of sweating--the unhealthy work-places--and it would
contribute to remove the others, first by facilitating combination, and
second by improving the personal efficiency of the labourer and the
amount of his production. Dr. Watts, of Manchester, speaking from long
experience, tells us in his "Facts of the Cotton Famine" (p. 44) that
"men often care more about being employed in a good mill (_i.e._, a mill
with plenty of room, air, and light) than about the exact price per
pound for spinning, or per piece for weaving, for they know practically
what is the effect of these conditions upon the weekly wages." Various
measures have been suggested which have some such end in view--the
compulsory registration of the contractor's workrooms and his
outworkers, the requiring him to provide workshops for all his hands,
the joint liability of the clothier with him for the wholesomeness of
the workplaces, the erection of public workshops where workpeople may be
accommodated for hire; they may be open to various objections--and there
is no space to indicate or discuss them here--but if they are effectual
for the purpose contemplated, that purpose saves them at least from the
reproach of socialism.

The international compulsory eight hours day is attended with like
difficulty. The eight hours day is no necessary plank of socialism,
though socialists have at present united to demand it. Rodbertus, the
most learned and scientific of modern socialists, always contended that
the normal working-day ought not to be of uniform length, but should
vary inversely with the relative strain of the several trades, and Mr.
Bellamy, under his system of absolute equality of income, makes
differences in the hours of labour answer the purpose of regulating the
choice of occupation, and preventing too many persons running into the
easier trades, and too few into the harder. Nor, indeed, apart from the
element of universal compulsion, has the eight hours day anything of
socialism in it at all. In some trades it is probably a simple necessity
for protecting the workpeople in normal conditions of health; but above
all its sanitary benefits it would confer upon the workpeople of every
trade alike the much grander blessing of admitting them to a reasonable
share of the intellectual, social, domestic, religious, and political
life of their time. If the State could bestow upon them this sovereign
blessing without forcing them to accept a reduction of wages, which
might deprive them of things even more essential for their elevation,
and which would only breed among them an intolerable discontent, by all
means let the State declare the glad decree. But experience shows that
in matters of this kind the State--and especially the democratic
State--is a very limited agent, and cannot successfully enforce its
decrees upon unwilling trades. In certain special cases, when the short
day is demanded for the purpose of averting admitted dangers to health,
as with the miners, or for the safety of the public, as with the railway
service, there is a recognised stringency of obligation which is
exceptional; but in the great run of trades the question is virtually
one of mere preference between an hour's leisure and an hour's pay, and
in these circumstances a law has too little moral authority behind it to
be practically enforceable by penalties in the absence of decided
working-class opinion in its favour in the affected trades. In Victoria
more than fifty separate trades have obtained the eight hours day
without any parliamentary assistance, and almost the only remaining
trades which do not yet enjoy it are the very trades which have been
protected by an eight hours Factory Act since 1874. As soon as the Act
was passed, the operatives, men and women both, petitioned the Chief
Secretary for its suspension, and it has remained in suspended animation
to this day. A democratic government cannot risk incurring the
discontent of a body of the people merely to prevent them from working
an hour more when they want to earn a little more. California has had an
Eight Hours Act on the statute-book for even a longer period, but it has
remained a mere dead letter, because employers began to pay wages by the
hour or the piece, and the men found they did not earn so much in the
short day as they used to earn in the long. The same thing has happened
in others of the American States, and the friends of the eight hours
movement in that country are beginning to think that the reason their
long and often hot struggle has hitherto been so fruitless is because
they have been wasting their strength in political agitation when they
ought to have been cultivating and organizing opinion among the working
class themselves trade by trade. The weakness of statutory eight hours
movements has generally flowed from two sources. One is that what their
promoters really wanted was not shorter hours, but more wages. Numbers
of them sought only to shorten regular time in order to lengthen
overtime, and numbers more got themselves persuaded that a general
reduction of hours was the grand means of effecting a general rise of
wages, either by removing the competition of the unemployed, or in some
other way; and it has often been only the few--always the very _élite_
of labour--who fought for the eight hours day because they valued the
leisure enough to make, if necessary, some little sacrifice for so noble
a boon. When, therefore, wages, instead of rising, begin to get reduced,
general disappointment is inevitable, and they get reduced--and reduced
lower than they otherwise might be--through the second weakness of such
movements, which is simply this, that a trades union which is not strong
enough to get an eight hours day by their own unaided efforts, without
the assistance of the law, is not strong enough to prevent their wages
from sinking, and in this matter the law can do nothing to help them.
The eight hours day can only be an abiding possession if it come through
the successive growth of opinion and organization in one trade after
another. The history of the movement in Victoria is the history of such
successive triumphs of opinion and organization; as soon as a trade has
come to want the eight hours day earnestly enough to be willing to
sacrifice something for it, the trade has always got it. In the result
they have had to sacrifice very little; scarce one of them suffered a
fall of wages by the change, for the simple reason that there was no
serious fall in their daily production. The difference between the ten
hours day and the eight hours day in Victoria was not two hours, but
only three-quarters of an hour, for--at least in the important
trades--the old day was ten hours, with an hour and a quarter off for
meals; and in eight hours with only one break the men probably did near
as much as they did before in the eight hours and three-quarters with a
double break. Still, most of the trades took twenty or five-and-twenty
years before they ventured to join the movement; and though no country
in the world is so much under the control of working-class opinion as
Victoria, the proposal of a general legal eight hours day which has
repeatedly come before the Legislature has never been carried into law.

In one sense the eight hours day is the least socialistic of all reforms
proposed in the interest of the working class, for it is impossible to
make the other classes of society pay for the boon. It may not, perhaps,
be quite certain that there will be anything to pay for it at all, for
many people assure us production will suffer nothing by the change, and
some promise us it will be even increased. But one thing at least is
certain: if there is anything to pay, it is the working classes
themselves who in the end will and must pay it. The reduction can make
no great difference to employers, except on running contracts, or where
for any reason they refuse to keep their plant in use by an extra shift,
for in the matter of wages they will do under an eight hours system
exactly what they do now--pay the men for the amount of work they get
out of them and no more; and as they thus produce their goods at the old
cost, they can export them at the old price. It need not, therefore,
have any permanent effect worth speaking of on the general trade of the
country. But if the men do less, their wages will be less too,[10] and
nothing can long keep them what they were. This wages question is the
eight hours question; and while it is a question for the men more than
for the masters, it is essential they should keep clear of all
misconception in deciding it.

There is no way of getting ten hours' pay for eight hours' work except
by doing the work of ten hours in the eight. An Eight Hours Act would
give working men no new power to raise the rate of wages; and if they
cannot by combination get twelve hours' pay for ten hours' work to-day,
they cannot by combination get ten hours' pay for eight hours' work
to-morrow. It is, indeed, a very current delusion, that a restriction of
production must increase wages by necessitating the employment of the
unemployed, whose competition tends at present to prevent wages from
rising. But that effect could only occur if the same demand for
commodities remained, and although that might be the case if the
restriction were confined to a single branch of industry, while all the
rest continued to produce as much as before, it would not be so if the
restriction were carried out simultaneously all round. The various
trades are one another's customers; the commodities one supplies
constitute the demand for the labour of the others; and if the supply is
reduced all round, the demand will be reduced all round. To say there is
at any moment a fixed amount of work that has to be done whatever the
produce of the labour, is, as Professor Marshall very happily observes,
to set up a Work Fund Dogma exactly analogous to the old Wages Fund
Doctrine of the schools, and, he might have added, a dogma even more
dangerous to the prosperity of the working-man. Yet the idea is abroad;
it appears in the trade-union policy of "making work"--that is, making
work for to-morrow by not doing it to-day; it is a kind of mercantilist
delusion of the present century, by which each trade is to cut some
advantage for itself out of the sides of the others until they all come
to practise the trick in turn and fall to mysterious ruin together.

If the eight hours day is to raise wages, it will not be by limiting
production, but by improving it. That the productivity of labour is
capable of improving--nay, that it is certain to improve to such an
extent as to earn by-and-by more wages in an eight hours day than it now
does in a ten--is scarce matter of doubt. Apart from the influence of
machinery and invention, there is a great reserve of personal
efficiency, especially in English labour, still capable of development.
Mr. Nasmyth, the inventor of the steam-hammer, said that he noticed when
watching his men at work, that most of them spent at least two-thirds of
their time, not in working, but in criticising their work with the
square and the straight-edge, which the few dexterous workmen among them
almost never required to use. An increase of dexterity might, therefore,
make up for a reduction of the day in these trades even to four hours.
But the present question is about the probable effect of the reduction
itself upon the efficiency of labour, and experience certainly does not
justify those who declare that it would increase the daily product. The
effect of a reduction from ten hours or nine to eight is, of course, an
entirely different question from the effect of a reduction from twelve
or thirteen to ten, because the last two hours' labour in a very long
and exhausting day may bear little comparison with the last two hours of
a shorter day; and of the exact effect of the particular reduction from
ten to eight we possess but scanty evidence, though much might easily be
obtained, one would think, from establishments that run, as many do, ten
hours in summer and eight hours in winter, or ten hours in busy times
and eight hours in slack. We have some American evidence of this sort,
but it is very contradictory, a few employers saying that quite as much
work was done in the eight hours as in the ten, and others that as much
would have been done had the men made a better use of their leisure,
while several more complained that the men really did less, and that
their energies were positively slackened under the short hours--this
also perhaps being a result of the use they made of their leisure. In
Victoria the production seems to have been reduced a little, but really
so little as to have no very perceptible results, and the leisure is
used so well that the working class have made a distinct rise in the
scale of being, and have developed a remarkable love of outdoor sports,
and spare energy enough to produce some of the most famous cricketers
and scullers in the world. There are some trades in which it is possible
for production to diminish and yet wages to remain the same, because the
difference can be thrown into the price of the product. These are trades
supplying a commodity in general and necessary demand of which the
consumers will stand a very considerable rise in the price before they
will seriously shorten their purchases. Coal is a good example of such a
commodity, and the miners are therefore very happily situated for the
adoption of an eight hours day. They are more able than most other
trades to prevent such a measure from resulting in any fall of wages,
and consequently a legal enactment on the subject is less likely with
them to create subsequent disappointment, and remain dead letter. They
need State help in the matter less than most trades, for they are strong
and well organized; but an Eight Hours Act would be more easily enforced
among them. Very few trades, however, are in this exceptional position.
On the whole, the risk of material loss incurred by the reduction is
slight compared with the certainty and greatness of the moral gain; the
material loss will, in any case, be soon made up by industrial
improvements, if things progress as they are doing; and if the reduction
is more likely to come through the union and organization of the trades
themselves rather than by either national or international action, the
trades at least need have no serious fear to make the venture.

The idea of settling questions of this kind by international action,
which was started at first from the side of the employers as a
convenient obstructive, but has since been taken up with great zeal by
the young German Emperor and the socialists, is obviously delusive. It
ignores the possibilities of the case, for who, in the first place, is
to adjust the complicated details of this international handicap, and if
they were adjusted, who is to enforce them? No country is likely to be
very strict in enforcing those parts of the settlement by which it lost
some point of advantage, and those are the only parts for which any such
settlement was wanted at all. Besides, international labour treaties are
quite unnecessary. Experience all over the world shows that a short-hour
State suffers nothing in the competition with a long-hour State. When
Massachusetts became a ten-hour State, her manufacturers never found
themselves at any disadvantage in competing with those of the
neighbouring eleven-hour States of New England, and they would have
still less to fear from rivals who employed, not the same Anglo-Saxon
labour as they did themselves, but the less efficient labour of Germany