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secure support amongst the rural population was due to their talk of the socialization of land. Eventually, after the set-back received in the election of 1908, it was decided to exempt land owned by the cultivator from socialization, and although this decision helped to secure more support from the peasants it knocked a big gap in the wall of the socialist structure.
Finally, when the question is raised, “How shall the transition from capitalism to socialism be made?" there is a great difference in the answers given. The early socialists believed it would be made by convincing men of the errors of competitive industry, and by setting up model communities which would act as pioneers and examples to mankind. Others thought the day would dawn in revolution, with violence and confiscation. In the stormy political days of 1848, and even later, this belief had many followers, and though it passed into the shadows when socialists turned to political effort, the misery caused by the war and the example of the Russian Revolutions brought the belief in force forward once more. Others have sought a way through political action, and have hoped by securing control over governments to introduce socialism by instalments. Not a few regard all thought on the matter as a waste of time, since capitalism will some day break down of its own weight, cut its own throat, and the path to socialism will then be made clear to those who live in that happy day.
But these points of difference do not destroy the general unanimity rs to the foundation on which the new society must be built. Social ownership is the common thread running through all schemes and proposals. Further, all socialists agree that the establishment of society on such a basis will result in the creation of a new kind of individual and social life. Liberty will become a real thing instead of a word. Selfish motives of conduct and effort will be replaced by a sense of altruism and social service; intellect, character, happiness, the arts and sciences will be freed from monetary and mercenary considerations, and all will have that freedom to develop their tastes and personalities which is enjoyed by very few to-day. International relations, liberated from commercial influences, will foster a sense of human brotherhood, and men of all nations will dwell in peace, free from the terrors of poverty, oppression, and war. This belief in the magic healing properties of socialism gives to the movement a spiritual character, and supplies to its adherents the solace, inspiration, zeal, and at times dogmatic fanaticism which others draw from religion. The Kingdom of Heaven will come to earth, bringing joy, happiness, and all the pleasures of life, intellectual, moral, and physical. And the name of the Kingdom shall be Socialism.
The Schools of Socialism. Socialism has had no lack of preachers and prophets, who can be divided roughly into three schools. First in historical order were the utopians or rationalists, who sought for some new principle on which to base society—some law of Nature—and then painted a glowing picture of a perfect society based on that law. To them all that was necessary was to discover this right principle, ordained by God (or reason) but now buried under error and vested interest. Then, when men saw the truth, and realized that existing society was built on a wrong foundation, they would gladly throw in their lot with the advocates of the new economic and moral world. The conversion would be all the quicker if one or two self-sufficing communities could be established on the basis of right principles; these communities would be successful, and would serve as ohject-lessons to mankind. In short, the evils of society were due to man's ignorance of true social principles; once show men the light, and they would desert darkness and follow the new gleam.. The only question to be answered, therefore, was “What is the true light?” To this belief in the power of reason, the utopian or rationalist socialists added a firm conviction in the omnipotence of environment. Men were naturally good, but their characters were formed for them, not by them. “We are the creatures of external things,” said one writer, and if man had developed badly the fault lay in the economic and social environment. Change that environment, and individual character would be altered accordingly.
Opposed to the rationalist school was that which found its justification and faith in a historical and analytical study of the development of society. This historical school asserted that all history was a struggle between economic classes, and that the position and character of those classes was determined by the prevailing methods of production and exchange. Applying this generalization to the 19th century, it was pointed out that capitalism, the system in which the class struggle reached its climax, revealed inherent tendencies which would some day cause its collapse or overthrow. When that day came the inevitable historical next step would be taken, and socialismo established. The difference between the utopian and historical schools was, therefore, that whilst the former sought salvation by converting men to belief in a new ideal, the latter saw socialism as the certain outcome of material changes. The former pinned its faith to spiritual and rational changes --mental conversion, the discovery of truth, the influence of examples; the latter clung to material changes, and foresaw in the breakdown of capitalism the collapse of a machine which had worn itself out.
Between these two schools we can place a third, which may be called opportunist or reformist. This school had no illusions about the possibility of a general or immediate conversion to right principles, or the value of one or two isolated model communities. On the other hand, it did not expect any early or complete cataclysm of capitalism. It declared that socialism would not come inevitably of its own accord, and meanwhile men had to face things as they were. Therefore, whilst preaching the social gospel, let every possible effort be made to secure the extension of state ownership or control. Socialism would come, not born in a night and a day, but by the gradual spreading out of state power, here a little, there a little. Such work would need the assistance of a sympathetic parliament; therefore let socialists strive to obtain control of the reins of government. Once having done so, definite steps might be taken on that long road which leads to full social ownership. Socialism by instalments, coming as public opinion gets more and more accustomed to the idea of state ownership; a gradual transformation, with experience accumulating at every step—these are the proposals of this third school. They are not heroic; they make little appeal to the imagination, and seem pale and wan alongside the mental revolution of the utopians and the economic revolution of the Marxians. But at least they give men something to do to-day; they make no false assumptions about human nature; they preserve men from the sourness which comes from merely negative criticism; they allow time for each advance to be tested by the acid of experience, and permit of that steady growth, backed up by a body of popular consent, which is the essence of all permanent progress.
The Utopians. Utopia-building has always been popular among critics of any existing order. In ancient times we have Plato's Republic. The social and religious unrest of the 16th century drove More to write his
Utopia, " and the conditions created by modern capitalism soon produced a long line of social architects, ranging from Owen and Fourier to Morris, Bellamy, Wells, etc.
Of these modern men Owen was by far the biggest in his influence on his contemporaries. He began his career as a reformer by creating better conditions for his employees at New Lanark. From this welfare work he passed on to bigger ideas, and gradually evolved a theory as to the importance of environment in shaping character. The industrial depression of 1815-18 convinced him that an economic society based on competition, private property, and unequal distribution of wealth was contrary to all sound laws of Nature. Society should be founded on co-operation, organization, and justice, with the welfare of all as its motto, instead of the selfish interest of each. If only men would accept such guiding principles, and strive to build society upon them, a vast revolution would take place, and the millenniumthe new moral world, as Owen called it-would dawn.
To convert men, to get them back to first principles, therefore became the central aim of Owen's life, and from about 1820 onwards to his death in 1857 he lived the life of an indefatigable propagandist. Through newspapers, pamphlets, lectures, and debates he sought to spread a faith which gradually became known as socialism. He appealed to rich and poor alike, in the new world as well as the old. But he did not stop at mere words; he determined to convince by the example of a few successful model communities based on his principles. The general character of such communities is shown in the articles drawn up for the London Co-operative Society in 1825. This society was to establish a self-sufficing community near London, with “mutual co-operation, community of property, and equal means of enjoyment” as its basic principles. There was to be complete democratic government, with full right of private opinion and judgment on all matters. Equality of the sexes was to be ensured, and women were to be eligible for the best education for all positions; they were promised freedom from“ "the domestic drudgery of cooking, washing, and heating apartments, which will be founded on scientific principles on a large economic scale for the whole community, " and children would be looked after by the community through voluntary teachers and nurses, aided by the parents. Each person would be free to choose his own trade or occupation; no one was to be required to follow any employment injurious to his health or unpleasant to his feelings. All unhealthy or repulsive occupations which could not be performed by machinery or scientific means, or be so modified as be rendered no longer unpleasant, or which could not be carried on by volunteer labour, were to be utterly banished from the community. An eight-hour day was to be instituted, and the length of the working period reduced further as produ«tion became more efficient and rapid. In order to prevent the evils of specialization all engaged in industries were to learn something about farming, and vice-versa. Domestic service was to be rendered by volunteers, or by the youth of the community in return for their up-bringing and education. In all work beauty and utility were to be the aim, rather than profit. The community was to renounce “all the advantages, or, as we esteem them, the evils of trafficking or mere commerce; we renounce profit, which implies living on the labour of others; we will not become a trading and accumulating, but we will be and remain a producing and enjoying community.” Food, clothing, and furniture were to be distributed equally to all the members from the general stores and kitchens. Each adult was to have two rooms, but might, if he wished, take his meals in the communal refectory. The abundant leisure-time was to be devoted to education and amusement. The art of preserving health would to a great extent supersede the trade of curing diseases. Lastly, the community was to number about 2,000 souls.
Many such schemes were formulated during the second quarter of the century, and some of them put into operation. In the United Kingdom and North America small self-governing communities were set up, based on the principles laid down by Owen, or on an amalgam of Owenite and religious ideas. In all cases the result was the same-failure. The reasons were easy to discover, but difficult to avoid. In the first place, a large sum of capital was necessary to provide all the buildings, equipment, and land, and in most instances an adequate supply of money was not forthcoming. Secondly, the inhabitants were a curious mixture of vagabonds, won't-works, adventurers, honest, conscientious hard-workers, and impracticable enthusiasts. The idlers lived on the workers, the leaders lacked organizing ability, old prejudices survived in spite of new surroundings, and environment failed to act as a philosopher's stone, converting bad characters into good ones. Thirdly, it was impossible to shut the community off from the outside world; transactions had to be made with the children of Mammon, and when hard times came to the settlement the savoury odours from the fleshpots of the big world outside tempted the weaker brethren away. Lastly, many communities were established and financed by some Owenite convert, and their success depended largely upon him; hence when the benevolent despot died, as was the case at Orbiston, near Glasgow, or gambled away his estate, as happened at Ralahine, near Limerick, the whole community quickly collapsed. The experiments based on religious beliefs lasted longest and had most success, but such success usually came only when the first high principles had been abandoned for more work-a-day rules.
Of other utopians one need say little. Saint-Simon (1760-1825) established a school of thought which saw salvation in the abolition of private property and the control of industrial activity by an all-wise government. Proudhon thought liberty and justice would come with a system of exchange from which money was excluded, and many people in England and France were of the same opinion. Fourier (1772-1837) worked out in great detail a model plan for society, which was much more radical in many respects than that of Owen. He declared that perfection could come only in a society which gave men full freedom for the development of all their faculties and passions. Such a society he painted in his picture of the “phalange.'' The swollen cities were to be deserted, and men settled in groups of 400 families, each group dwelling on a block of land nine square miles in area. All were to be housed in a big hotel; those who wished could have their meals in common dining halls, but suites of rooms were to be allowed to those who valued privacy. All were to be free to choose their own occupation, industrial or agricultural, and the land round the hotel was to be an intensively cultivated garden. Labour was to be made attractive, and men were to be free to change their occupations when they wished. Capital could be privately owned, but must be invested in the phalange. Out of the wealth produced all were to receive an adequate minimum amount; what was left was then to be shared between capital, managing ability, and labour; those doing unpleasant or hard work were to get the greatest share, those engaged in pleasant tasks being satisfied with a smaller amount. Women were to be economically free, receiving a share of wealth equal to that given to men. Theatres, temples, picture galleries, ball and concert rooms were to be provided, and the pleasures of life made accessible to all. Each phalange was to have its own ruler, and as such communities grew in number they were to be federated in a world-wide union, with a universal elected ruler dwelling in Constantinople. Fourier appealed to some rich man to come and provide the money for the establishment of the first phalange. For twelve years he sat in a room one hour a day waiting for the philanthropist with a million francs to turn up; but he waited in vain.
Of later utopians little need be said; all lay down some ideal or principle, on which they proceed to build up a perfect society. The reader will find much that attracts in the joy of art and craftsmanship underlying William Morris? “News from Nowhere”'; he will probably be repelled by the hard matter-of-fact perfection of Bellamy's “Looking Backward."
Weaknesses of the Utopians. The weak points in the Utopian armour were seen in the reasons for the failure of the Owenite communities. The naïve belief in the omnipotence of reason led to their undoing. Men are very slow to accept a new principle, and even slower to act on it. Those who make a profit or hold power will always think that the existing system is perfect and based on the only true foundations, and the victims of a system will often cling to it for fear of falling out of the frying-pan into the fire. Man is not a rational animal; sentiment, conservatism, fear, intellectual inertią, and vested interest are stronger than that reason on which the Utopians based their hope of ultimate perfection. Secondly, the importance of environment was over-stressed, and, even admitting that a changed material order would produce a better mental and moral standard, the charge would take generations to work out. Thirdly, it was well-nigb impossible to cut adrift from contemporary society, and establish communistic oases in the midst of the capitalistic desert. There could be very little hope of overthrowing capitalism by running away from it. A successful community here and there would really have very little effect on the big problems of poverty, exploitation, and private property. Hence, judged by any standard of practical achievement, the result of the efforts of the Utopian socialists was almost nil. But Utopianism, watered down, produced co-operation; its joyous enthusiasm for humanity, its optimism, and its belief that the world can be put right if only we make the effort still appeal to many who find Marx unreadable and Marxism a grim hymn of hate.
Books Recommended. Kirkup, T., “History of Socialism''; Gide and Rist, “History of Economic Doctrines””; Sombart, W., “Socialism and the Social Movement”; Spargo, J., “Socialism''; Beer, M., “History of British Socialism,” vol. 1; Morris, W., “News from Nowhere''; Bellamy, E., “Looking Backward."