British Socialism - An Examination of Its Doctrines, Policy, Aims and Practical Proposals
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British Socialism - An Examination of Its Doctrines, Policy, Aims and Practical Proposals

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The Project Gutenberg eBook of British Socialism, by J. Ellis Barker
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Title: British Socialism
An Examination of Its Doctrines, Policy, Aims and Practical Proposals
Author: J. Ellis Barker
Release Date: March 19, 2009 [eBook #28361]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 ***START OF THE PROJECT SOCIALISM***
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BRITISH
E-text prepared by Jeannie Howse, Carl Hudkins, jnik (media provider), and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net)
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BRITISH SOCIALISM
BRITISH SOCIALISM
AN EXAMINATION OF
ITS DOCTRINES, POLICY, AIMS AND PRACTICAL PROPOSALS
BY
J. ELLIS BARKER
AUTH O R O F 'MO DERN G ERMANY: H ER PO LITICAL AND ECO NO MIC PRO BLEMS, ETC.' 'TH E RISE AND DECLINE O F TH E NETH ERLANDS'
LONDON SMITH, ELDER, & CO. NEW YORK: CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 1908
CHAPTER I. II.
III. IV. V. VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI. XII.
XIII. XIV. XV.
XVI.
XVII. XVIII. XIX. XX.
XXI.
XXII. XXIII.
XXIV. XXV. XXVI.
CONTENTS
PAGE INTRO DUCTIO N—WHATISSO CIALISM?1 SO MESO CIALISTVIEWSO FPRESENTSO CIETYANDO F THESO CIETYO FTHEFUTURE10 THEGRIEVANCESO FTHESO CIALISTS30 THEFUNDAMENTALDO CTRINESO FSO CIALISM50 THEAIMSANDPO LICYO FTHESO CIALISTS92 THEATTITUDEO FSO CIALISTSTO WARDSTHEWO RKING MASSES115 THEATTITUDEO FSO CIALISTSTO WARDSTRADE UNIO NISTSANDCO-O PERATO RS131
SO CIALISTVIEWSANDPRO PO SALSREG ARDINGLAND ANDTHELANDLO RDS SO CIALISTVIEWSANDPRO PO SALSREG ARDINGCAPITAL ANDTHECAPITALISTS SO CIALISTVIEWSANDPRO PO SALSREG ARDING TAXATIO NANDTHENATIO NALBUDG ET SO CIALISMANDTHEEMPIRE SO CIALISTVIEWSO NINTERNATIO NALRELATIO NSAND FO REIG NPO LICY SO CIALISMANDTHEARMY SO CIALISMANDTHEMO NARCHY SO CIALISTVIEWSO NPARLIAMENTANDTHENATIO NAL ADMINISTRATIO N THEATTITUDEO FTHESO CIALISTSTO WARDSTHETWO PARLIAMENTARYPARTIES SO CIALISMANDLO CALGO VERNMENT SO CIALISMANDAG RICULTURE SO CIALISTVIEWSO NBRITISHRAILWAYSANDSHIPPING SO MESO CIALISTVIEWSO NMO NEY, BANKS,AND BANKING SO MESO CIALISTVIEWSO NFREETRADEAND PRO TECTIO N SO CIALISMANDEDUCATIO N THEATTITUDEO FSO CIALISTSTO WARDSPRO VIDENCE, THRIFT,ANDTEMPERANCE SO CIALISTVIEWSO NLAWANDJUSTICE SO CIALISMANDWO MAN,THEFAMILYANDTHEHO ME THESO CIALISTATTITUDETO WARDSCHRISTIANITYAND RELIG IO N
145
152
160 170
183 192 207
209
225 240 261 269
278
285 302
311 325 330
354
[v]
[vi]
XXVII.THERELIG IO NO FSO CIALISM XXVIII.CHRISTIANSO CIALISM XXIX.SO CIALISMANDCO MMUNISM XXX.SO CIALISMANDANARCHISM XXXI.SO CIALISMANDREVO LUTIO N XXXII.STATESO CIALISM XXXIII.THESO CIALISTORG ANISATIO NS:THEIRMUTUAL RELATIO NSANDTHEIRPO LICY XXXIV.THEGRO WTHANDDANG ERO FBRITISHSO CIALISM XXXV.HO WTHEPRO G RESSO FSO CIALISMMAYBECHECKED XXXVI.ISSO CIALISMPO SSIBLE?—AGLANCEINTOTHE SO CIALISTSTATEO FTHEFUTURE XXXVII.CO NCLUSIO N APPENDIX—OFFICIALPRO G RAMMESO FTHESO CIALISTIC ORG ANISATIO NS BIBLIO G RAPHY ANALYTICALINDEX
BRITISH SOCIALISM
CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION—WHAT IS SOCIALISM?
What is Socialism?
364 375 381 394 404 411
415 431 440
444 470
481 493 509
It is exceedingly difficult to answer that question in a few words, for Socialism is exceedingly elusive and bewildering in its doctrines, its aims, and its proposals.
Its opponents have described it as "a doctrine of sordid materialism and of [1] atheism," they have denounced it as "the gospel of everlasting bellyful," and [2] as "the coming slavery." They have stated that Socialism means to abolish religion, that it "would try to put laziness, thriftlessness, and inefficiency on a par with industry, thrift, and efficiency, that it would strive to break up not merely private property, but, what is far more important, the home, the chief prop upon [3] which our whole civilisation stands."
[1]
ToC
The Socialists, on the other hand, claim that "Soci alism presents the only [4] living ideal of human existence" ; that "Socialism is science applied with [5] knowledge and understanding to all branches of huma n activity" ; that [6] "Socialism is freedom," and that it is exceedingly just, for "the justice of [7] Socialism will see all things, and therefore understand all things." One of the Socialist leaders has told us "Socialism is much more than either a political creed or an economic dogma. It presents to the modern world a new conception of society and a new basis upon which to build up the life of the individual and [8] of the State." Another informs us "Socialism to Socialists is not a Utopia which they have invented, but a principle of social organisation which they assert to have been discovered by the patient inves tigators into sociology [9] whose labours have distinguished the present century." A third has stated [10] that "Socialism is really neither more nor less than the science of sociology." A fourth asserts that "it is a scientific scheme of national government entirely [11] wise, just, and practical." A fifth states "Socialism to me has always meant not a principle, but certain definite economic measures which I wish to see [12] taken."
Other Socialists have taught that "Socialism is an ethical system founded on justice and truth; it is a heartfelt, soul-inspiring religion, resting upon the love of [13] God." "Socialism is a theory of social organisation, whi ch reconciles the individual to society. It has discovered how the individual in society can attain [14] to a state of complete development." "Socialism is the right of the community, acting in its corporate capacity, to intervene in the lives and labours [15] of men and women." "Socialism is nothing but the extension of democratic [16] self-government from the political to the industrial world." "Socialism is an endeavour to substitute for the anarchical struggle or fight for existence an [17] organised co-operation for existence." "Socialism may be described as an endeavour to readjust the machinery of industry in such a way that it can at once depend upon and issue in a higher kind of character and social type than [18] is encouraged by the conditions of ordinary competi tive enterprise." [19] "Socialism is the development of policies concerning the welfare of society." "It is not arbitrary destruction and reconstruction , but a natural process of [20] development." "The idea of Socialism will conquer the world, for this idea is [21] nothing but the real, well understood interest of mankind." "Its principles will [22] carry the whole human race to a higher state of perfection." "It is the great modern protest against unreality, against the delus ive shams which now [23] masquerade as verities." "Socialism is of the character of a historical [24] discovery." "Socialism, the inspiring principle of all Labour Parties, whether they know it or not, is the next world movement—the movement of the [25] constructive intellect."
Socialism is rich in promises, and its claims to our consideration and support are manifold. Are these claims justified or not? Are the Socialists or the Anti-Socialists right in their conception of Socialism?
The Socialists maintain that all opposition to Soci alism is based either on self-interest or ignorance, and principally upon the latter. Therefore one of the Socialist leaders wrote: "Those who wish to understand Socialism will be wise to study Socialist books and papers. One does not e xpect a true and fair account of any theory or cause from its enemies. The man who takes his ideas of Trade-Unionism from the Free Labour League, his ideas of Liberalism from
[2]
[3]
[4]
the Tory papers, his ideas of South African affairs—or any other affairs—from the Yellow Press, will be misled into all manner of absurdities and errors. The statements of party politicians and party newspapers on most controversial subjects are prejudiced and inaccurate; but there is no subject upon which the professional misleaders of the people are so untrus tworthy and so [26] disingenuous as they are upon the subject of Socialism." A leading Socialist organ complained: "Our opponents decline to deal wi th the fundamental principles of Socialism—its unanswerable indictment of the capitalist system, with all its concomitants of wage-slavery and slumdom; prostitution and child murder—and prefer instead to indulge in calumniation and misrepresentation of Socialism. We need not complain about that. It is a tribute to the soundness of the Socialist position, to the irrefutability of its principles, the impregnability of the rock of economic truth upon which it is based, that our enemies dare not oppose the principles of Socialism, dare not attemp t to meet the charge [27] Socialism levels against the existing order."
There is much truth in these complaints. The general public and most writers and speakers know very little about Socialism, because this most interesting subject has been very inadequately treated in the existing books.
The existing books on Socialism describe, analyse, and criticise the Socialist doctrines only in the abstract as a rule. However, Socialism is not only an elaborate economic doctrine, it is at the same time a complete system of practical politics. Hence it does not suffice to study the doctrines of Socialism by themselves. In order to understand Socialism we must also investigate its practical proposals.
Following the methods of our political economists, most writers on Socialism have, unfortunately, treated Socialism rather as a scientific abstraction than as a business proposition. Consequently the most important practical details of Socialism, such as: What are the views of the Socia list with regard to the Monarchy, the Army, the Banks, the National Currency, the Law, Education? what are their practical aims as regards Parliamentary Representation, Foreign Policy, Agriculture, Taxation, Old-age Pensions, Fiscal Policy? what are their relations with the Parliamentary Parties, the Trade-Unions, the Co-operators, etc? what is their attitude towards International Communism and Anarchism? is English Socialism an Evolutionary or a Revolutionary Movement?—these and many other questions are touched but lightly or are not touched at all.
It is somewhat difficult to deal fully with the pra ctical proposals of the Socialists, because the Socialists are very averse from formulating their aims and disclosing their plans. An English Socialist wrote: "To dogmatise about the [28] form which the Socialist State shall take is to play the fool." Another one stated: "It is quite impossible, at this time, nor would it be desirable, if possible, to lay down any hard and fast line as to the develo pment of the details of Socialist organisation. Broad principles are all th at can with any degree of confidence be spoken about. The details will arrange themselves, as the time [29] arrives when it becomes necessary to settle them." Gronlund, perhaps the most prominent American Socialist, stated: "Sociali sts do not profess to be [30] architects. They have not planned the future in minute detail." Herr Bebel, the leader of the German Social-Democratic Party, said on February 3, 1893, in the Reichstag, replying to the Roman Catholics, "We do not ask from you the details of the future life of which you speak so incessantly. Why, then, do you
[5]
[6]
[31] ask us about the future society?" Although we are told that "Socialism claims the consideration of mankind, because it comes forward and offers a [32] complete scheme to improve the conditions of human life," Socialists carefully abstain as a rule from giving us the details of that scheme.
The Socialists of all countries have very excellent reasons for keeping to themselves the details of their plans for the future. Nevertheless, a careful search through their numerous writings will enable us to obtain a fairly clear and comprehensive view of their political and economic plans and intentions.
Great Britain does not as yet possess a great Socia list party but only a number of Socialist groups and factions which are totally at variance as regards their aims, policy, and tactics. "They differ as to the best means of getting what they want, and as to the best ways of managing the work, and as to the proper way of sharing the earnings. Some Socialists still believe that Socialism will have to be got by force. I think there are not many. Some are in favour of buying the land, the railways, the machinery, and other things; and some are in favour of taking them, by force, or by new laws. Then some say that there should be no wages paid at all, but that everyone should do an equal share of work, and take whatever he needed from the nation's goods. Others say that all men should do an equal share of work, and have an equal share of the goods, or of the earnings. Others say it would be better to pay wages, as now, but to let the wages be fixed by the Government, or by corporations, or other officials, and that all wages should be equal. Others, again, say that wages should be paid, that the wages should be fixed as above stated, and that different kinds of work should be paid for at different rates. In one kind of Socialism the civil engineer, the actor, the general, the artist, the tram guard, the dustman, the milliner, and the collier would all be paid the same wages. In another kind of Socialism there would be no wages, but all would be called upon to work, and all who worked would 'take according to their needs.' In another kind of Socialism the civil engineer would be paid more than the navvy, the opera singer more than the milliner, the general more than the sergeant, and the editor more than the [33] scavenger."
Notwithstanding these numerous and important differences, of which more will be learned in the course of this book, British Socialists are absolutely united in certain important respects. "The policies of Socialism are a [34] changeable quantity, though the principle is as fixed as the Northern Star." [35] "Socialism is as flexible in its form as it is definite in its principles."
A superficial study of Socialism reveals to us not a single and generally accepted plan, but a confused and confusing mass of mutually contradictory plans and doctrines. Therefore he who wishes to know what Socialism is, must study the many-headed movement in its entirety and give an impartial hearing to all its advocates. We can understand Socialism only if we are acquainted with practically its entire literature.
Unfortunately the literature of Socialism is very vast. A complete collection of modern Socialist literature would embrace at least thirty thousand items. Therefore a full analysis of international Socialism based upon the study of the original sources is a forbidding undertaking. I have consequently limited myself to the investigation of the British Socialist movement, although I have cast a cursory glance upon foreign Socialism whenever it seemed necessary to do so.
[7]
[8]
I have consulted altogether about a thousand books and pamphlets, and have given representative extracts from four hundred or five hundred of those which seemed most proper to elucidate the subject of this book. Having given space to the views of all the Socialist groups, thi s book is a summary of the whole literature of British Socialism and a key to it. It is based exclusively on first-hand evidence, and every statement contained in it can instantly be verified by reference to the original sources indicated in t he footnotes. In the Bibliography at the end of this volume the full title, publisher's address, and date of publication of all sources drawn upon are given, so that readers will have no difficulty in procuring any Socialist books they may want for further study.
Most of the books quoted are unknown to booksellers, and are not in public libraries. Even the British Museum Library possesse s only part of the publications used in this book, which is the first to exploit fully the whole Socialist party literature. Whilst most books on Socialism take note only of Socialist text-books addressed to students, the pre sent volume considers chiefly the propaganda literature which is educating the Socialist rank and file and shaping its political views. For all practical political purposes the propaganda literature is undoubtedly by far the more important of the two to the statesman and the citizen.
The present volume is the only book of its kind, and I hope that the Socialist movement in Germany, France, and the United States will be treated with similar completeness by writers of these countries. The perusal of the present volume will enable us to form an opinion of the merits or demerits of the Socialistic theories and practical plans, and make it possible for us to separate the grain from the chaff, the wisdom from the folly, in the teachings of the Socialists. Thus we shall be able to see which of t heir complaints and proposals are justified and practical, and which are unjustified and unpractical.
Popular dissatisfaction, Socialistic and non-Social istic, points to the existence of ills in the body politic, and the Socialistic agitation is exceedingly valuable inasmuch as it draws general attention to these ills. Some complaints of the Socialists will be found to be imaginary, others are very real.
It would be a sterile undertaking merely to analyse and criticise Socialism and the Socialistic proposals. Therefore, after having described the policy, ideals, and aims of the Socialists, I mean to analy se the disease of which Socialism is a consequence and a symptom, and to pr opose practical measures for curing it.
In the course of this book I shall show that Socialism seems likely to become a very great danger in this country—a far greater d anger than is generally realised. Therefore its opponents will be wise not to sneer at Socialism, but to study it and to try to understand it. That task will be found worth our while, and only after it shall we be able to further Socialism if it is beneficial, to combat it if it is pernicious, and to correct it if it is only the misguided expression of genuine suffering and want. Indifference to a great and dangerous political movement such as Socialism may have the gravest consequences. Idlers do not make history. They suffer it.
[9]
Blatchford,What is this Socialism?p. 2.
Ford,Woman and Socialism, p. 3.
Robert Blatchford,Real Socialism, p. 15.
[20]
[19]
[18]
[17]
Ibid.p. 16.
[21]
[22]
[23]
Williams,Difficulties of Socialism, p. 4. Bliss,Encyclopedia of Social Reform, p. 1265.
[25]
[24]
Guyot,Pretensions of Socialism, p. 11.
[32]
[33]
[35]
[34]
[31]
[27]
[26]
[28]
[29]
[30]
Blatchford,Merrie England, p. 100. Shaw,The Impossibilities of Anarchism, p. 3. "Veritas,"Did Jesus Christ teach Socialism?p. 1.
Webb,The Difficulties of Individualism, p. 3.
Kessack,Capitalist Wilderness, p. 2.
FOOTNOTES:
[16]
[15]
[9]
[8]
Hyndman,Socialism and Slavery, Preface.
[10]
[11]
[13]
[12]
[7]
[14]
Keir Hardie,From Serfdom to Socialism, p. 1.
Macdonald,Socialism, p. 3.
Labour Record, February 1907. Webb,The Difficulties of Individualism, p. 15. Will Socialism benefit the British People?p. 4. Ball,The Moral Aspects of Socialism, p. 3. Williams,The Difficulties of Socialism, p. 3.
Millar,Socialism, p. 21.
Gronlund,Co-operative Commonwealth, p. 126.
Ethel Snowden,The Woman Socialist, p. 44.
Hird,From Brute to Brother, p. 1.
[2]
[1]
Bax,Religion of Socialism, p. ix. Lafargue, in Bliss,Encyclopedia of Social Reform, p. 1264. Macdonald,Labour and the Empire, p. 108.
[6]
Herbert Spencer,The Man versus the State, p. 18 ff. Roosevelt, Presidential Message, December 1907. Walter Crane in Squire,Socialism and Art, Foreword. Bebel,Woman, p. 256.
[5]
[3] [4]
Bebel,Woman, p. 257.
Sorge,Socialism and the Worker, p. 13.
Justice, October 19, 1907.
Keir Hardie,From Serfdom to Socialism, p. 96.
CHAPTER II
SOME SOCIALIST VIEWS OF PRESENT SOCIETY AND OF THE SOCIETY OF THE FUTURE
"We are not indebted to reason," wrote the greatest American Socialist, "for the landmarks of human progress, for the introduction of Christianity, the institution of the monastic orders, the Crusades, the Reformati on, the American Revolution, or the abolition of slavery. Man is onl y irresistible when he acts from passion. The masses of men are never moved exc ept by passions, [36] feelings, interests." "Socialism has the advantage of appealing to the interests as well as to the enthusiasm of all except the few who think the world good enough as it is.... It is, of course, to the discontented wage-workers that [37] the Socialist can appeal with the greatest chance o f success." These indiscreet words, which might have been written by the most implacable of Anti-Socialists, sum up and explain the Socialistic agitation and tactics. They are a proclamation and an avowal, and the worst enemy of Socialism would have found it difficult to pen a more damaging statement. Socialists rely not on reason or justice, but on unreason and passion, for the victory of their cause; and that fact is very much to be regretted, for it is bound to create prejudice and suspicion, and to greatly weaken their case.
The British Socialists, seeking to rouse the passions of men, habitually rely on exaggeration and misrepresentation. They do not tire of painting the present state of society in the darkest colours and of describing with an unbounded but hardly justifiable optimism and enthusiasm the advantages which will accrue to society when Socialism has come to rule. It will be seen that in describing society of the present and society of the future, Socialists let their imagination run riot in the most astounding fashion.
To the Socialist modern civilisation is worse than a failure. "Our civilisation seems all so savage and bestial and filthy and inartistic; all so cowardly and devilish and despicable. We fight by cheatery and u nderselling, and adulteration and bribery, and unmanly smirking for our bone of a livelihood; all scrambling and biting round the platter when there is abundance for all, if we were orderly and courteous and gentlemanly; all cru shing the weaker; all struggling to the platter-side for the privilege of wearing tall hats and of giving good advice to the poor dogs outside. We, the well-fed, shout lordily to the hungry and cheer them with legends to the effect th at though the poor are juggled out of earth, they may be masters in Heaven . Our civilisation is [38] barbarous."
Where'er we go, to east or west North or south, 'tis all the same; Civilisation at it's best Is savagery's newer name.
[10]
ToC
[11]
For we see on every hand 'Midst the whirr and noise of trade The toilers, crushed and trampled, and [39] Into beasts of burden made.
"The one reality of the nineteenth century is the scramble for wealth; politics, literature, science, religion, art, are, apart from money-getting, mere lifeless [40] wraiths." Government in general, and British Government in particular, is vicious, tyrannous, and neglectful, and deserves the utmost contempt. "National Government is devised for other objects than the ad justment of essential, economic, and hygienic arrangements for the redemption of human life; to use it for such a purpose is gross tyranny and a deadly blow at the very foundations of morality and religion! Governments exist for quite other purposes than this —to pay a million pounds yearly to one family and i ts immediate parasites, to supply power of life and death over the people to the exploiting class and fat places to their satellites and creatures, to squander hundreds of millions on gunpowder and armaments, to use the whole socialised power of the nation to overawe, exploit, rob, and ruin the so-called lower races—all these are the proper objects of government according to our orthodox wiseacres, but to use the same obvious instrument adequately to protect human life at home, and that life, to quote Mr. Burns, 'the weakest, the smallest, and the dearest to us all,' is to undermine the foundations of British manliness and to poison the fountain of British liberty and greatness. Such is the curiousmélange of selfishness, hypocrisy, prejudice, ignorance, and incoherence wh ich passes muster for [41] argument amongst our anti-Socialist opponents."
British social legislation has been a failure. Never was the lot of the workers worse than it is now. "Your legislation for the past hundred years is a perpetual and fruitless effort to regulate the disorders of your economic system. Your poor, your drunken, your incompetent, your sick, your aged, ride you like a nightmare. You have dissolved all human and persona l ties. The salient characteristic of your civilisation is its irresponsibility. The making of dividends is the universal preoccupation; the well-being of the labourer is no one's concern. You depend on variations of supply and demand which you can neither determine nor anticipate. The failure of a harvest, the modification of a tariff in some remote country dislocates the industry of millions, thousands of miles away. You are at the mercy of a prospector's luck, an inventor's genius, a woman's caprice—nay, you are at the mercy of your o wn instruments. Your [42] capital is alive and cries for food."
Virtue has disappeared, religion is a fraud, clergy and priesthood are mercenary, cowardly, and interested time-servers. "The priests and the parsons are salary-slaves as much as the workers are wage-slaves. The majority of them dare not preach the Gospel of Humanity, Justice, and Socialism from their pulpits owing to their fear of their paymasters. Re ligion is divorced from business, politics, the administration of public authorities, the treatment of the aged worker, and written across the actions of the professing Christians is 'Self-[43] interest; every man for himself and the Workhouse take the hindmost.'"
Life is hell, and only Socialism can regenerate the world.
Things are all wrong, and we must put them right
[12]
[13]